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Scandals Beg Question: Should the State Do More to Oversee Tax Collection?

Though a state law was passed 13 years ago requiring training for tax collectors, it hasn't been implemented. In light of recent scandals, that could change.

 

It’s an interesting question and one that, until recently, many locals didn’t think they needed to ask: Can you trust your municipal tax collector?

That is what the Valley Independent Sentinel is asking after tax collectors in Oxford and, most recently, Derby and Ansonia have been involved in scandals to steal money from their respective offices.

The Sentinel points out that the state wanted to make sure it could trust people collecting money some 13 years ago, when it passed a law mandating training and testing for municipal tax collectors. However, that law has never been implemented. 

In Oxford, a formal training procedure, and perhaps some state oversight of municipal tax collection, may have caused the town’s longtime tax collector to think twice before embezzling from tax coffers. 

Former Tax Collector , 63, has pleaded guilty to stealing $242,903 from the tax office over several years.

The state has recommended that she spend the next five years in prison and repay the money that state police say she stole. (Many believe Guillet stole far more than that amount.)

Guillet will be sentenced on Oct. 29 at Milford Superior Court.

Kathy September 13, 2012 at 11:12 AM
No amount of certification will guarantee honesty. I still want to know why the auditors never picked this up? I deal with auditors and the amount of testing is in depth and detailed. Did they not do this annual detailed audit? Has anyone looked at there audits? Finally, why are they still retained as the town?
xxxoxox September 13, 2012 at 12:27 PM
There was and is little justification for the tax collector position to be an elected office. Our tax collection should not be a party perk or popularity contest. We need to be able to seek out the most qualified, competent, experienced and vetted person we can find rather simply pushing forward someone who wants/needs a job in town or is willing to run. Arguments about Democracy and the right to vote are silly in that there is no real reason for party affiliation in the office as the duties and decisions are in no way impacted by philosophical positions or perspective. This becomes more clear with every tax collector we lose.
Richard Burke September 13, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Whether elected or hired, neither fully protects against the point that Kathy has raised ... honesty. Annual town audits are not performed at the same level as those performed for publicly held corporation. As part of keeping taxes low and resulting from competitive bidding ... too little is spent on municipal audits. This issue goes beyond Oxford. Mrs. Guilette probably broke our trust for over 20 years. Over that timeframe, there were many audit firms, and none picked up on her stealing. We can only assume that she was very adept at playing her shell game. As for the audit firms, as per regular practice of changing every 2-3 years, Oxford has just contracted with a new firm. My advice to everyone at this point is ... let the judge know that we want justice, and that Mrs Guilette's sentence and restitution ... should not be minimized or reduced. Regards, Dick
don September 13, 2012 at 03:22 PM
We don't need State union employees to interfer with our operations. Spend more money on auditing and hold the auditors responsible for their audit. The State cannot do any better. Keep it on a local basis. Keep the politics out of it. I would recommend it be a professional position to be filled by appointment and be held responsible along with bonding of position.
xxxoxox September 13, 2012 at 05:21 PM
To Dick's point, honesty is best ensured when their is least opportunity to deceive. Oxford is as much a victim of its poor procedures as it is a victim of KG. Professionalize the position and the procedures and you can reduce the liklihood of theft. Use of cash should be discouraged for everyone's protection. Overhaul of procedures by a firm with accounting and security expertise should occur and protections made public. This should cost a good deal of money as it would be done by experts. A worthwhile investment.
chris September 14, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Let her rot in prison! I know her personally and she didn't regret what she did. She regret that she got caught. She spent Oxford's money on trips, shoes and other personal expenditures. Personally I think her husband should also be blacklisted. He's just as guilty as her in my opinion. Who doesn't know where all of that money comes from to do everything they did with it? Let's see how she enjoys her new wardrobe.

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