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Letter: Demand accountability on county tax collection

Demand accountability on county tax collection

The Oct. 9 News article on unpaid taxes was spot on. As a Buffalo resident who pays his Erie County taxes on time every year, I am very concerned about how and why the county has not collected unpaid county taxes in the City of Buffalo for 12 years. Without the diligence of The News reporter, this information never would have seen the light of day. Glaring lack of oversight and fiduciary responsibility are apparent at all levels of authority that were aware of this unacceptable situation.

The article points out that those responsible for tax collection in Erie County have a litany of excuses as to why this has happened, with the fingers already being pointed at previous administrations (lack of funding; red-green budget; layoff of 27 people). While all of these reasons could well be the cause, allowing county taxes not to be collected on city properties is totally unacceptable.

Perhaps I could accept a year needed to regroup and rethink an acceptable process, but what I find reprehensible is the fact that it took from 2005 to this year for the powers in charge to resume tax collections on Buffalo properties. The fact that Erie County’s director of Real Property Tax Services is quoted as saying “he is already making adjustments from this year’s learning experience” (which basically wasted taxpayers’ money) and that he “likes the way we’re headed” speaks volumes as to the lack of clear direction in the county’s tax collection process.

The responsibility for this has to be put squarely on the desk of the county executive. If Mark Poloncarz did not know about this situation (which in itself is a damning point) he certainly should have been informed of it much sooner in his term. As someone who spent the better part of 40 years in the business world, I can tell you that, in my experience, actions such as these resulted in terminations. There are responsible parties here who knew how a myriad of individuals, many of whom are quite well off financially, were “gaming” the system. As a county taxpayer, I am certain that no less than their termination will satisfy my anger and disgust with this entire situation.

Fred Brace

Buffalo

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