RACINE — The city’s finance chief is hoping to convince aldermen to do away with a program that lets residents spread their property tax payment over four installments.
This isn’t the first time Finance Director David Brown has made the pitch to aldermen, but his reasons for asking for a change are the same — reduced workloads for a reduced staff.
Brown first approached the Finance and Personnel Committee with the idea in September 2011. At that time, he said moving away from a four-payment installment program to the two-payment installment program would save the city $75,000 in labor costs.
The savings were to come from eliminating a vacant part-time payroll technician position and reducing the hours of a full-time customer service specialist, which was also vacant at the time. By eliminating vacant positions, the costs would be taken out of the budget.
The committee recommended the change, but the City Council rejected it two months later after nine alderman — many of whom said they heard complaints from taxpayers — voted “no.”
Today the city, or rather the Finance Department which oversees the City Clerk and Treasurer’s Office, finds itself in a staffing situation similar to the one it was in two summers ago.
Brown said Monday that getting rid of the extra processing work created by the four-payment installment plan will help would reduce labor costs.
“We lost one of our customer service people this year, and we have less manpower to (process payments) so anything we can do to reduce the work load and save money, we should do it,” Brown said. “We had five counter people and now we are down to four.”
Brown added that of the roughly 27,000 property tax bills the city sends out each year, 6,200 are on the installment plan. That’s about 23 percent of taxpayers. While this move would not cost taxpayers more, it would eliminate the option of spreading their taxes over four payments.
“We are the only jurisdiction in the county that has anything other than a two-installment plan, so it would put us in line with what everybody else is doing,” Brown said.
He will be discussing the proposal with City Council’s Finance Committee next week.