Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty was among seven local officials who recently attended a Town of Hempstead meeting about merging tax collection operations for several municipalities.
Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin met with mayors and other officials from Island Park, East Rockaway, Floral Park, Bellerose, Lawrence and Hewlett Harbor on Oct. 30. His goal is to reduce taxpayer costs by using the Town of Hempstead’s machines to send out tax bills rather than continuing to have each village individually pay employees to stuff envelopes by hand and send them out.
“His plan is to share tax services so that he can sort and send out bills on behalf of any number of villages and do it cheaper than if we do it in Island Park,” McGinty said. “That’s a home run.”
Clavin first announced the plan in August and he and other officials explored possible changes in the collection of village taxes in the hope of increasing governmental efficiency and reducing the operational costs associated with collecting village tax receipts.
There are 22 villages fully and partially encompassed within the boundaries of the town, all of which collect village taxes. The Town of Hempstead collects taxes for its own government, as well as for Nassau County, local school districts and a host of special districts such as sanitation, water and fire districts. Clavin said that because village tax collectors and town receivers perform similar functions, it would be beneficial to consolidate them.
“It saves everybody money,” he said. “By working together, we’re just trying to see if there’s a way we can save people money and make the government more efficient.”
Clavin said each participating official was given a questionnaire to complete about their tax operations, which they will return to his office. The questions include tax billing schedules, payment options and the processing and mailing of bills and receipts, among other items.
Clavin added that after the data is collected, another meeting will be held to determine which cost-saving efficiencies are possible and which services could potentially be consolidated. He said the town now sends out 256,000 bills and receipts quarterly, but the machines they use are dormant for most of the year. He noted that employees in the tax office are cross-trained in many different areas and could help process the village taxes.
McGinty said he is in favor of the idea because Island Park officials send more than 1,500 bills, which is labor intensive on employees.
“It’ll be less expensive in pure dollars — in time and dollars,” he said. “If village employees don’t have to stuff tax bills, they can spend more time assisting constituents.”