Town’s elected officials must be held accountable
In response to the article “Tonawanda failed to collect sales tax for decades,” as a financial professional and a Ken-Ton resident, I am shocked at the lack of professionalism displayed by our elected officials. Based on the accounts reported in The News and other media outlets, it appears that these folks are clueless on how to correctly run an organization. Any individual who has ever looked into buying or starting a business will report that he has checked into the past history of the business as well as the rules and regulations that business is governed by.
The defense is that the town received bad information back in 2000; is it not the job of the town officials to look up and verify the information? To say that “the people before them were doing it this way” is like any 8-year-old saying, “well, Billy is doing it, so should I.” Ignorantia juris non excusat – Ignorance of the law does not excuse.
A quick Google search on municipalities paying sales tax will provide you with the answer that municipalities that sell goods need to collect and remit taxes for sales of items that consumers could purchase from a non-governmental entity. For these folks to have put the taxpayer monies in jeopardy through pure laziness and ignorance is unacceptable. In the “real world,” regardless of what was done before you, as the new owner of a business you are responsible to make certain that you are doing everything legally and correctly. Those in control of the town’s finances should be held accountable for such actions.
This is exactly why government should stay out of private business.
I hope that New York State conducts an audit of the Town of Tonawanda and, as they would in the real world, holds these elected officials liable and accountable for their ineptitude.