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Amherst Town Board members Monday voted to slash another $30,000 from Town Clerk SusanJaros' budget, after she closed the office to the public on two days last week.

The board also voted, 5-2, in favor of a new town law that would allow board members to set the business hours for the clerk's office. A public hearing and a referendum will be required before the measure could take effect.

The actions were the latest skirmish in a long-running battle over the outsourcing of the town's tax collections.

A majority of the board says that by having a bank collect the taxes, the town will save money; Jaros and a minority of the board, led by Supervisor Susan J. Grelick, argue that the clerk should be allowed to continue collecting taxes.

"All of us here are responsible for service to the public," Council Member Jane S. Woodward said, and she added that because of the office closings, "We all look bad."

Other lawmakers also joined in the criticism of the office closings, one of them calling Jaros' move "draconian."

Jaros was present during the meeting, but did not reply.

Last week, residents with business at the Town Clerk's office found themselves locked out for two days of the week. Jaros posted a letter on the door complaining that budget cuts by the Town Board had forced her to lay off six part-time workers.

Critics say Jaros' budget has increased by 60 percent over the past six years and that she no longer needs the same size staff because her former tax-collecting duties are now being handled by a local bank using a lock box.


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