A proposal to scrap the Aurora tax receiver position and merge those duties into the town clerk’s office likely will go to town voters in the November election.
The town is readying a local law that would eliminate the elected part-time post as a cost-cutting measure that supporters say would also streamline operations. If approved, town officials estimate it could result in immediate yearly savings of between $13,856 and $17,106.
The proposal to merge those duties into the town clerk’s office became controversial at the outset, though, drawing criticism in mid-August during a public hearing. When the Town Board this week was poised to abolish the position and put it up for a November vote, it was noted that the wording of the resolution did not specify the effective date.
Town officials said afterward that the clerical glitch was not intentional and that the town’s intent would be for it to take effect at the end of Tax Receiver Barbara Halt’s term, on Dec. 31, 2013. However, because the resolution lacked that information, another public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at 300 Gleed Ave., followed immediately by the board’s vote.
The idea is not new to Aurora and has been discussed off and on during prior administrations. But now that town government is relocating to the Southside Municipal Center on Gleed Avenue, officials indicated it seemed like an ideal time and could also coincide with the end of Town Clerk Martha Librock’s term.
“Regardless of the cost savings, it’s a more efficient structure because you have more [staff] in the town clerk’s office,” Councilwoman Sue Friess said. The town said it may need to add a part-time worker during tax season on a limited basis.
Currently, residents can pay taxes to Halt from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily at Town Hall. Under the proposal, residents could come in throughout the day to the clerk’s office to pay their taxes. In addition to the increased tax office hours, there would be greater flexibility with staffing through the deputy town clerks, town officials say.
The proposal calls for the elected town clerk to still earn the same salary of $56,000, plus benefits, and also have two full-time deputies. Total projected staffing costs with benefits amounts to $153,249.
Currently, the clerk’s office has a full-time and a part-time deputy, and its total costs with benefits is $125,960. Personnel costs for the current tax receiver arrangement, including a part-time deputy tax collector, totals $44,395, with benefits. The tax receiver earns $28,833, plus $12,312 worth of benefits.
“It’s an opportunity to find small, but ever-important savings, and to improve both the cost savings to the residents and the efficiency of the operation,” Supervisor Jolene Jeffe said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with the person that’s in the position. She’s been a longtime, good elected official for the town. We hope to minimize the impact on her as the town moves forward.”
Retirement costs are not expected to increase because the town pays into the state pension fund based on a percentage of salary, whether it’s full or part time. Town officials also said they do not plan to give the town clerk a raise for additional responsibility in her office.