Clavin’s Intergovernmental Cooperation Plan Could Enhance Efficiency, Reduce Taxpayer Cost
Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin stood alongside a group of village mayors at the Hempstead Town Tax Office to announce that America’s largest township is working with local village officials to explore a change in the collection of village taxes that could increase governmental efficiency and reduce the operational costs associated with the collection of village tax receipts.
“How often does a Tax Receiver get to announce new innovations that could save taxpayers money?” asked Clavin. “I am excited today to be joining with some village officials who are committed to efficient and cost-effective governmental operations. Together, we are exploring ways to make local government work better while saving taxpayers money.”
Hempstead Town includes 22 villages that are either fully or partially encompassed within the boundaries of the township. And, those municipalities provide an array of services as well as being charged with a host of administrative responsibilities. Among the most important duties with which villages are generally tasked is the collection of village taxes. At the same time, Hempstead Town collects taxes for its own government as well as for Nassau County, local school districts and a host of special districts such as sanitation districts, water districts and fire districts.
Moreover, village tax collectors and the Hempstead Town Receivers’ Office perform similar operational tasks, which beg for a serious study on consolidation, cooperation and governmental efficiency.
“While the town’s enormous mail processing machines are laying idle between town, county and school tax collection periods, many villages are scrambling to get their tax bills in the mail and vice versa,” said Clavin. “Doesn’t it make sense to see if we can combine operations, reduce our costs and save taxpayers money?”
“When Don Clavin called me to discuss the possibility of consolidating governmental work tasks, I was enthusiastic,” stated Dominick Longobardi, Mayor of Floral Park. “After all, that is what government leaders are supposed to do—look at how we can make our operations more efficient and cost effective for the taxpayers whom we serve.”
Clavin noted that the prospective savings span a host of areas. Indeed, programming and software, mail processing equipment, high-speed printers, as well as stationary, ink and delivery are all factors that could lend themselves to economies of scale.
While several factors in the tax collection process lend themselves to consolidation, challenges are also present. The wide array of dissimilar software programs that are being used by villages and the town to produce bills would have to be addressed. Potential overlap periods in billing and the generation of receipts in some villages and the town is also an issue that will be examined. Indeed, some villages produce two tax bills per year, while others generate one bill. As a result, timing factors become more complex. Finally, the town is exploring state legislative regulations that may have to be addressed. Nonetheless, Clavin and the mayors indicated their desire to enthusiastically research the issue with a focus on saving taxpayer dollars.
“The savings of consolidating tax collection duties cover a variety of areas,” stated Clavin. “There would be less need for printers, mail processing equipment, computers and associated software, among a host of other costs that could be subject to economies of scale. This is exciting work that we are undertaking.”
“Working together to explore synergies that can help us perform our governmental tasks in a responsible manner and at the lowest possible cost just makes sense,” said Atlantic Beach Mayor George Pappas. “I am eager to work with the Receiver of Taxes and other mayors to study this initiative.”
The Receiver and mayors moved to allay any prospective fears on the part of village workers who are concerned about their job security. The leaders said that the clerical functions and administrative tasks within their governments would lend themselves to re-assigning any affected workers, and personnel savings would be realized through attrition and the reduction of some overtime costs, not through layoffs.
“Working collaboratively, we can slash some costs from our government operations,” said Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty. “Now more than ever, it’s important to aggressively control government spending so that we can constrain the costs that are borne by taxpayers to the lowest possible level.”