WARREN Council in quandary over job

One lawmaker called the proposed tax administrator salary 'outrageous' while others say it's justified.
WARREN -- Salary and job qualifications continue to be the sticking points with city council over the proposed new position of city tax administrator.
Council's finance committee talked Tuesday, agreeing to regroup at 4 p.m. next Tuesday, to consider a proposal from a committee of local businessmen charged with mapping out the job.
The group was solicited by city council president Doug Franklin for its financial expertise.
Several council members said the group's proposed salary for the position, roughly $57,000, is too much, and that qualifications are not stringent enough.
The group says applicants should have at least a two-year degree in a related field, with a four-year degree and prior income tax experience preferred.
"I think the salary is so outrageous it's unbelievable," said Helen Rucker, D-6th,
As for qualifications, Rucker said, experience, not education, is most important.
Approves of salary: Brendan Keating, D-5th, said he has no problem with the salary because the position will pay for itself through aggressive income tax collection.
"You get what you pay for," he said.
Virginia Bufano, D-1st, Alford Novak, D-2nd, and Susan Hartman, D-7th, also said they're concerned the proposed salary is too high.
City Auditor David Griffing said current full-time treasurer Patricia Leon-Games costs the city about $70,000 with wages, benefits and the city's share toward her pension.
Having a part-time treasurer and an administrator with the proposed salary could cost $100,000 or more.
The proposal says the position will take effect Jan. 2, with the full-time administrator reporting to John Taylor, who will take office as city treasurer, which is now a part-time post.
He will handle city investments and the administrator will primarily handle collections.
Motivation: The city decided to make changes after a state performance audit said it was not aggressive enough with collections.
Taylor said the tax administrator will be a "heat-seeking missile in collecting taxes."
The salary is a good investment for the city, he added, because of job responsibilities.
Councilman John Homlitas, D-3rd, said he agrees the city should require a four-year degree, but he stands behind the salary.

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