If elected, will Bethel tax collector serve?

Posted 10/30/19

WHITE LAKE, NY — The River Reporter asked Debra Gabriel, the long-time tax collector for the Town of Bethel, whether or not she plans to serve if she is reelected. On October 28, she responded …

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If elected, will Bethel tax collector serve?

Posted

WHITE LAKE, NY — (Update on Nov 5.)  After saying she would not take the oath of office if elected to another term as Bethel Tax Collector, Debra Gabriel changed her position on the subject.  She confirmed on a social media post on November 4, that she would, in fact, take the oath if elected.   

The previous story was post on Oct. 30.

The River Reporter asked Debra Gabriel, the long-time tax collector for the Town of Bethel, whether or not she plans to serve if she is reelected. On October 28, she responded with an email, “I have no comment at this time.” The election is November 5, and with early voting, some people have already cast their ballots.

Dan Sturm, supervisor of the Town of Bethel, called the situation “confusing.” Gabriel sent the town board a letter at the end of August saying that she was resigning. According to Strum, she later sent the board another letter asking to be reinstated. Most recently, residents on social media have been making posts that say Gabriel would decline to be sworn in if elected.

At this point, she is still on the ballot because it was too late to change that even at the end of August. As of now, the office is vacant.

“My concern is it’s getting late in the year, we want to be ready for the tax collection period starting on January 1,” said Sturm.

Sturm said there have been several issues with property taxes this year. Three taxpayers were assessed late fees but had paid their taxes on time. He said another taxpayer had a receipt that he paid his taxes, but the money had not been applied to his parcel.

Another situation involved the loss of $1,000 in tax money. Sturm said Gabriel told the board in January that a taxpayer was in her office paying his $1,000 tax bill, but that after he left, the money was missing. “[She] wasn’t sure if the [taxpayer] took the money off the counter,” Sturm said. Eventually the $1,000 was applied to the property, but “there are still question surrounding the parcel.”

Sturm said he has asked for a complete audit and review by the accounting firm that regularly audits the town.

In the meantime, Susan L. Brown is running a write-in campaign to become the tax collector. Regardless of the election outcome, Sturm said, there will be a tax collector in office by the New Year’s Day. If Gabriel is elected but declines to serve, the town board will appoint a tax collector to serve until a special election in November 2021.

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