Monroe Democrats look to separate tax collection from town clerk's job

| 22 Feb 2012 | 03:33

    ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,’ Town Clerk Mary Ellen Beams replies Monroe - The push by the Monroe Town Board’s Democratic majority that elected officials should only wear one hat continued this week as the Democrats sought to remove the tax collecting responsibilities from Town Clerk Mary Ellen Beams’ portfolio and make it an independent position. The board had previously shifted two jobs formerly held by the highway superintendent - dog control officer and water superintendent - into separate positions. The town clerk was always the tax collector until 1990 when William Bollenbach took over the duties. In 2006, Albany pushed for consolidation - to put the tax collection function into the town clerk’s office. Following the consolidation, the town budgeted $36,000 for the salaries for that department which included the tax collector and four part-timers. For this year’s budget, Beams receives $8,760.68 and the deputy tax collector $2,190.17. Beams salary as town clerk is $50,583.75. Monroe councilmen Gerard McQuade and Harley Doles assured Beams that the quality of her work was not in question. They simply want to continue the new board’s policy of one job per public official. As Doles said: “If the person doing the job doesn’t win in the next election, there has to be someone else able to do it.” Office served as pilot program Beams, a Republican who is up for re-election next year, offered her assessment of the idea like this: ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” “The state had recommended consolidating departments,” she said. “The town decided that was the time to do it and save money because the town clerk already did the tax collecting.” As town clerk/tax collector, Beams said she is there to answer questions every day of the year the town hall is open . She also noted that the county chose her office to field test a new tax software, Business Automation Services. Taxes can now be paid online and credit cards are accepted, said Beams. The county is now looking to have all villages, towns and school districts use this software. Timing Supervisor Sandy Leonard said the suggestion to fill the position now is ill-timed. “It is less than two weeks into tax season,” she said. “ I strongly suggest it be done at a later time.” Town taxes are collected January through the end of April. Referring to McQuade’s suggestion to give the unemployed town jobs, Councilman James Rogers said the town of Monroe is not an employment agency. “We don’t have to provide jobs for everyone,” Rogers said. If it is not feasible to effect the change now, McQuade said, at least the discussion has begun to take action next year. The matter was then decided to be discussed further by the board in executive session.