Wallingford may cut tax collector fees
By SANDI SWITZER
Correspondent | February 23,2013
WALLINGFORD — Tax collector fees could become a thing of the past if voters approve an annual stipend for the municipal post.
Residents will decide at town meeting if the delinquent tax collector should be paid a salary rather than commissions and fees to collect overdue taxes.
“We are just trying to find ways to raise revenue for the town so we don’t always have to raise the tax rate,” said Select Board Chairman William Brooks. “A lot of towns have gone this way.”
An article on the municipal warning asks voters whether the delinquent tax collector should be paid $1,200 a year. A related article questions whether the officer should collect an 8 percent fee along with the overdue taxes and remit all revenue to the town.
A third question asks voters whether interest on delinquent taxes should be collected — 1 percent per month for the first three months overdue and a slight increase for ensuing months.
The tax collector’s commissions and fees came to about $17,000 annually over the last few years, according to Brooks.
“This year, the budget shows a deficit of $25,000 — which will be reduced with the FEMA money — but the $17,000 would make that bottom line look a lot better,” Brooks said.
If voters approve the articles, commissions and fees collected with the overdue taxes would support municipal operations, he said.
“It’d be better if that $17,000 was going into the town coffers” rather than to the tax collector, Brooks said. “There are certainly places it could be used.”
Delinquent tax collector Lee Perry said he was not involved in the Select Board’s decision to place the questions on the town meeting warning.
“I don’t know why they want to do it, but I’m OK with whatever the voters decide,” he said.
Perry noted, however, he would not support the initiative. “I’m going to vote no,” he said.
The town report lists $201,000 in delinquent property taxes last April.
“An 8 percent commission would be $16,000 if you collected it all,” Perry said. “Realistically, you’re looking at $10,000 to $13,000.”
He said all property owners in town, not just the delinquent ones, would have to pay the tax collector’s salary if voters approve the articles.
“As a taxpayer, I like the system that requires those behind on their taxes to pay, not those who are current,” Perry said.