Panel would oversee income tax department

The mayor's suggestion comes after a state auditor's review of the city income tax department.
NILES -- More discussion is expected this week on creation of a panel to oversee the city's income tax department.
Mayor Ralph A. Infante Jr. has suggested creation of an oversight panel, and city officials contacted the state last week about the authority to create a committee.
"It would be to create policies and procedures for the office," Infante said.
He is suggesting he and Neil Buccino, city auditor, make up the committee. Richard Bullock, who is unopposed in next week's election to become city treasurer, would be a member until Bullock assumes office next year.
Council members are expected to meet before Wednesday's regular meeting to talk about the an ordinance establishing a panel.
What's planned: J. Terrence Dull, law director, said he's drafting legislation for council's consideration that would establish a panel with the mayor, auditor and one representative of the public at-large.
Dull and Infante contacted Petro's office this week to determine if such a committee is possible.
"They thought it was possible," Dull said. "Their question was how much authority could be given to the body to make decisions, but as far as an advisory committee, they thought that could be done."
At a finance committee meeting last week, Councilman Stephen G. Papalas, D-at large, said he favored an oversight panel if it expires at the end of the year.
Infante disagreed.
"I think it should be there forever," Infante said.
What's behind this: A performance review of the city income tax department released last month by state Auditor Jim Petro prompted the suggestion. Infante had requested the review.
The report found that nearly 40 percent of businesses and individuals in the city didn't file 2000 income tax returns. It also listed 20 recommendations for improvements in the department.
The income tax department is part of the treasurer's office. The treasurer is a part-time elected position. Treasurer Vickie Flynn-Putnam didn't seek re-election and leaves office at the end of this year.
One of the audit's recommendations said the city should consider conducting a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the law department or external collection agency should be used in collecting delinquent income taxes.

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