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Public Hearing Scheduled on New Tax Refund Policy

New ordinance would allow Tax Collector to credit rather than reimbursement small overpayments.

A public hearing has been set for August 6 in the (BHS) media center at 7 p.m., before the monthly Board of Selectmen’s (BOS) meeting, on a new town ordinance to allow the Tax Collector to credit overpayments of less than $5 rather than reimbursing taxpayers in the same year.

The ordinance is allowed under section 12-129 of the Connecticut General Statutes and will save the town money and prevent recording problems, according to Tax Collector Lauraine Paquin.

The cost of processing and sending a reimbursement check is between $6 and $8, Paquin said — more than the $5 threshold under the proposed ordinance. Not only is the cost higher than the reimbursement, at $5 or less the checks aren’t worth cashing to many, causing problems for the finance department.

The had 27 overpayments of $5 or less last year, though that number fluctuates year to year, Paquin said. Under the new system, the taxpayer would be credited the amount toward the next tax bill.

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Steven DeVaux July 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM
"prevent recording problems"? Sounds like a job performance issue.
John Hawley July 10, 2012 at 08:41 PM
No, Steven..it's a productivity and cost savings measure taken by most large corporations and smart municipal finance agencies; As a former finance person in charge of school districts, was it Monroe? You well know this. "Recording problems" refers to aged uncashed checks which are the problem as well as the cost of issuing small checks.
Steven DeVaux July 10, 2012 at 11:47 PM
If they did their job right, there would be no "problems" John. Covering up substandard performance with policy changes doesn't solve the problem. Once again Brookfield's selectmen are covering up a leadership void. Leadership is a verb, not a noun as practiced of late at town hall.
David Propper July 11, 2012 at 12:38 AM
How do you know that the problems were cause by hard working people in town hall? Doesn't it seem stupid to spend $8 to send a $5 check to somebody? Personnally, I would increase the threshold to $25 dollars. If somebody (or their proxy) sends the town more money than is what is on the bill, the good people of OUR town should not be penalized with the added costs.
John Hawley July 11, 2012 at 12:58 AM
LOL, did you send out your people to chase uncashed checks in Monroe? You have absolutely NO proof of your accusations. If you do, publish it and stop with the irresponsible innuendo.
Steven DeVaux July 11, 2012 at 11:32 AM
It's a leadership issue and they are being paid to solve it, not paint over it with a change in policy. A failure in a leaders ability to put policies into effect that catch the problem beforehand would negate the problem before it became one. Staff should be accountable for taking funds over and above the amount on the bill - and they know that before they accept it.
John Hawley July 11, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Seems to me to be good proactive leadership here...identify a problem, take steps to modify processes to eliminate the problem, ergo, problem solved. Small uncashed checks by the population is not controllable by anyone. You still haven't put anything specific as I asked, just more generalities and innuendo...I have more important things to do with my time so good luck.
Steven DeVaux July 11, 2012 at 11:27 PM
He shouldn't create the problem in the first place by having his staff take incorrect amounts. It's quite clear he's creating the very problem he is proporting to solve.
Ryen August 06, 2012 at 05:33 PM
I agree with you, John, that in the original comments Steve was neither clear nor specific about his criticism (while speaking strongly on the issue). However, he has now been specific and clarified it be pointing out that a municipal tax collector should not be accepting and cashing checks that are for more than the amount due. It may cost $6 or a token amount to send a refund check--but it should not cost that much to return the check with a form letter and pencil in the correct amount needed. Or get a software package to do it (which will pay for itself over a few years). It seems to me that returning and correcting a taxpayer's overpayment would be part of the JOB of the tax collector--and it is also the tax collector's and town's JOB to solve that problem. There are other possible solutions. I actually do not see you being specific in response, John. It is a little more of a "gray area" than you suggest--and not as simple. And it IS the tax office JOB to handle--effectively and efficiently. NOT create more problems than are already there!
John Hawley August 06, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Good points, Ryen. I suggest specifically that the amounts overpaid be credited to the next tax payment due. That can be done automatically with a software solution if the capability doesn't exist already. Most billing operations credit overpayments to the next bill due (just look at your card/utility statements). I don't know how these payments are processed into the ledger but I suspect there is some level of automation. I doubt if a clerk is actually comparing the tax payment check to the receivable prior to entry to the ledger. That would create another level of complexity that is unnecessary for the volume of the problem. Having dealt with large billing processes for a good part of my career, I can only offer reasonability. Also, many people have a tendency to pay a bill say for $5983.17 with a check for $5984.00. Would you like the Town to return that check and lose potential float on that payment because the check wasn't exact? You're right about the gray area and I think the Town Tax Collector knows the operation better than we and has the right solution. Steve will pick a fight on about anything he can if it involves Brookfield Government. I am done with this topic. Have a nice day!!

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