East Hampton Town is looking for a new tax receiver.
A classified advertisement appeared this week in local newspapers seeking a tax receiver who has experienced in accounting, reporting and management.
According to Town Budget Officer Len Bernard, the new hire will replace Monica Rottach, the current tax receiver, who has been on family medical leave since January. Before that time, town officials discovered that more than 5,000 tax bills had not been printed or mailed to residents from the tax receiver’s office.
In the town’s internal audit of the tax receiver’s office, it was found that the backlog of tax bills was largely due to a software glitch in the system the office uses, MS Govern. The program in an update had reset itself to sending only 800 bills to the printer, instead of 1,000.
Additionally, there were no “internal controls” to double-check the printing process to see if all the bills were sent to the printer and mailed, according to the report. There had also been two weeks of unopened mail in the office.
Mr. Bernard said once town officials received this information, it was “apparent” that they needed to search for a new tax receiver: “It’s not something that we jumped into, it was the result of a waiting process to see how things transpired over the last several months regarding the incumbent and what the best plan for the town was based on the information we got from everyone involved.”
It is not known if Ms. Rottach will remain employed, he said.
So far the town has already received responses to an online ad, but Mr. Bernard said the town is going to wait to see how many responses ultimately accumulate before making a decision as soon as possible.
The position’s responsibilities include: collection, deposit and disbursement of all taxes levied in the Town of East Hampton; development of the tax roll and county tax warrant; posting and reconciliation of deposits and maintenance of payment records; monthly bank reconciliations; and preparation of the departmental budget. The position would pay anywhere from $60,000 to $70,000.
Mr. Bernard said in the meantime, Neide Valeira, a town accountant, has been put in charge of the office, and that things are getting back on track.
“One of the things we’re doing is making sure that we do daily accounting work in a timely fashion,” he said. “We also set up a system that when mail comes in, even if we’re short-staffed, within six hours things will be sorted in a way that nothing winds up in a box and doesn’t get processed.”
He said now there are controls in place to count how many bills have been printed so the right number is sent out next time.
The receiver’s office is gearing up to send out reminders for second-half taxes at the beginning of May, he added. At the end of the entire process of getting things together, he said, another internal audit will be done to document the entire process, step by step, to avoid future mistakes.
“They’ve done a good job getting everything back in control,” Mr. Bernard added. “The number of collections are very close to where we were at this point last time. I’m very proud of the way the staff handled it. Everyone has chipped in.”