While many people believe that a vote in this year’s presidential election is a waste of a ballot, that is certainly not the case for the upcoming revote in Moretown.
Moretown wants to encourage as many voters as possible to participate in the October 11 revote, which will decide whether to give the select board the power to appoint a delinquent tax collector. Moretown voters petitioned for a revote of an August 9 vote that passed 230-178. Petitioners alleged that the select board had not done adequate public outreach prior to the vote. To pass again, the number of yes votes must be two-thirds of the yes votes in the first election.
The vote had to be held within 60 days of receipt of a petition, be warned 30 days in advance of the revote and the town must hold a public informational meeting prior to the revote.
The public informational meeting was held on Monday, October 3, and the new Moretown office was as crowded as it has ever been. The select board faced many of the same questions that they have been asked over the past month.
The select board has repeatedly said that the only reason they are pursuing an appointed tax collector is to save the town money and for the collection of delinquent taxes to work more efficiently. They stated again on Monday evening that, although the current town treasurer has not been approached, they are confident that she would take the job.
If the vote were to pass again, the delinquent tax collector would be paid differently barring another vote. Rather than an 8 percent penalty, which is currently paid to the delinquent tax collector, the job would be a salaried position that would be added onto what the current treasurer is already paid.
Sheila Getzinger asked what the savings would be and the select board said they could not give a definitive answer because they have not discussed the salary yet. They will do so in the event that the vote passes.
Over the past 12 years the 8 percent penalties have averaged $11,000 per year. Tom Martin, chair of the select board, believes that he can definitely save the town money by switching the position’s payment.
“We certainly want to get that tax money in and Craig has done an effective job in the past but things move forward. This town needs revenue. We lost any revenue that we had and we’re on a slim budget here,” Martin said.
The current delinquent tax collector, Craig Eilers, was praised throughout the meeting with some saying that the select board was taking him and the work he did for granted. Some audience members do not believe that the current town treasurer, who already has a full-time job, could take on the work of the delinquent tax collector and use the same care as Eilers.
Those in attendance pointed out that the work that Eilers does with people who can’t pay their property taxes takes place on nights and weekends due to people having jobs. That night and weekend work, one woman said, would not likely happen if the town’s treasurer takes over the job. And that, she said, could lead to an increase in uncollected property taxes.
Eilers said that during the first few months after receiving initial warrants of delinquent taxes he puts in 40 to 50 hours of work a month working with people to ensure they are able to pay off the taxes. After that the workload decreases to about 20 hours per month.
Toward the end of the meeting, board member John Hoogenboom spoke up and said that regardless of what has already happened, there will be a revote and it is the community’s chance to overturn the original outcome if they choose, “So let’s go out and vote,” he said.