NILES Needs are focus of discussion after audit
The treasurer said she hasn't refused to meet with council members.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- The city's income tax director says overtime and additional employees are needed in the department, while the mayor says enough people work in the office and that overtime should be required only when there's a vacancy.
A performance audit of the city income tax department by Ohio Auditor Jim Petro's office released last month found that about 40 percent of businesses and individuals in the city didn't file 2000 income tax returns.
The report, requested by Mayor Ralph A. Infante Jr., also listed 20 recommendations for the department.
Janet Rizer, income tax director, responded in writing to each of those recommendations to city council members last week. Infante distributed his response at a finance committee meeting Wednesday.
"My recommendations are for the betterment of the city of Niles," the mayor said.
Meeting: He suggested another meeting involving him, Rizer and Treasurer Vickie Flynn-Putnam.
"With my recommendations and Janet's, we should be able to put something together that will work," Infante said. "This is something that shouldn't wait."
Flynn-Putnam was at the meeting, the first she's attended since council members have been discussing the audit report. She said she hadn't refused to meet with council members but that there was miscommunication about when she could attend.
Some council members have been critical of Flynn-Putnam, questioning how much time she spends in the city hall office. The treasurer is a part-time elected official.
"I'm in contact with Janet Rizer, the tax director, on a daily basis," she said.
Flynn-Putnam, treasurer for 16 years, didn't seek re-election this year because of family illness, she said.
Recommendations: One auditor's-office recommendation said the city should determine whether the law department or an external collection agency should be used to help in collecting delinquent income taxes.
Rizer wrote in her response that it would be beneficial for the law department to hire a part-time person to handle filing cases in court. She also suggested hiring a clerk to handle delinquencies.
"That is the same recommendation the tax office made in 1995 when we were turned down by the administration," Rizer wrote.
Infante said that since 1995, the tax director has been able to directly file on delinquent taxpayers.
"Also back in 1995 and 1996, we moved two part-time employees to full-time employees," Infante wrote.
Staffing: Rizer also wrote that the employees are working diligently.
"This office would require overtime and additional employees as well as cooperation from the administration to maintain our common goal of fairly administering the city tax code," she said.
Infante counters that a part-time treasurer, full-time director and four other full-time employees should be enough to fulfill the duties of the office.
"No office employees have overtime in their budget," the mayor wrote. "There should be no reason for overtime unless there is a vacancy in a position."