New Tax Receiver Gets To Work In East Hampton

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An East Hampton woman has accepted the job of tax receiver in East Hampton Town.

Rebecca Rahn is a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont and Westwood College-Denver South. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting and finance, and has been working as the manager of finance and human resources at Naturopathica Holistic Health in East Hampton since 2010.

Len Bernard, the town’s budget and finance officer, said Ms. Rahn was selected from eight interviewees.

“I think everybody was impressed,” he said, explaining that the Town Board members conducted the final interview. “She has all the requisite skills. She’s very personable, and everybody on the board seemed comfortable with her. She realizes the importance of the position and is looking forward to it.”

According to Ms. Rahn, her financial career began when she moved to East Hampton in 2008 and started as the bookkeeper at Naturopathica and worked up the ladder to her most recent position as manager of finance and human resources.

She said she applied for the job partly because she wanted to give back to the community that had done so much for her and her children, who attend East Hampton Middle School.

“It might not be what people normally think giving back is,” she said. “But the tax receiver’s office is where the money comes in for the schools and the fire departments. I am very excited to be a part of it.”

Originally from Westchester, Ms. Rahn lives in East Hampton with her husband, James Rahn, and their two children. Her extended family also lives in East Hampton.

She said her first day, Monday, had been “wonderful” and that coming in now, during the summer, put her in a good position to learn the ropes before the next tax bills are sent out in December.

Ms. Rahn said she had been briefed on what happened over the winter with the tax bills, that set in motion a series of actions that led to her hiring. In January, 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, and the lack of 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.

Town officials said, in the search for a new tax receiver to replace Monica Rottach, who has been on family medical leave since January, it was important to find someone with managerial skills so something of this nature could not happen again.

Ms. Rottach on Tuesday referred The Press to her attorney, Thomas Horn, of Sag Harbor, but he was unavailable for comment before press time.

Mr. Bernard said that the “situation is being worked on and her status with the town is being finalized,” but couldn’t say more, he said.

“We were looking for someone with financial experience, some accounting experience who also had management experience, somebody who had good interpersonal relational skills that can interact with the public,” Mr. Bernard said. “And someone who had an appreciation of the importance of the job, being accurate and thorough and making sure the proper internal controls were in place.”

Ms. Rahn, who will be paid an annual salary of $62,000, said she thinks the town did an excellent job handling the issues by identifying them and working together.

According to Mr. Bernard, Neide Valeira, a town accountant who was appointed in the interim as tax receiver, Amy Rivera, the deputy tax receiver, Charlene Kagel, the town auditor, and other town employees, as well as the tax receiver from Southampton Town, Theresa Kiernan, helped get things back in order.

“The more I heard about it, the more motivational it sounded,” she said, explaining that town employees pulled together to help her sort out the mess when she first entered her new office. “The skills I bring to the table will be extremely helpful, not only in accounting and finance but in organizational and managerial skills. There are policies and procedures that need to be in place. I’ll be working with a great group of people that will offer guidance and help.”

Mr. Bernard said that since January, the town has worked to get back on track and has done so.

“We’re in really good shape,” he said. “I’ve got to hand it to Neide Valeira [a town accountant who was appointed in the interim as tax receiver] and Amy Rivera, the deputy tax receiver, and everybody who pitched in.”

Mr. Bernard had said in April that the finance department put in checks to make sure the bills are printed and counted correctly and things are done in a timely manner.

The second round of tax bills has been sent out and collected, he added.

“We’re in excellent shape,” he said. “Next week, we’ll be releasing the seasonal part-timers.”

That’s why it was important to select the right person, according to Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell.

“In part, that’s why we opened the process and we were seeking the most qualified candidate, given the issues we’ve had in that department,” he said. “Ms. Rahn is very well-qualified, talented and capable, and we think she is an excellent choice.”

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