Property taxes that were collected on behalf of Montgomery County by the City of Amsterdam over the course of many years but were never forwarded to the county will finally be repaid under an agreement approved by the county legislature in June, and by the city council at this evening’s meeting. The deal calls for a total of $1.2 million to be repaid by the city over the course of 20 years with a 1% interest rate. Payments will be deducted by the county from sales tax payments disbursed by the county to the city.
The issue stems from the city’s lapse of proper accounting practices that began after a migration to a new accounting software system in 2011 and subsequent instability in the controller’s office until 2014.
During the meeting, Councilwoman Irene Collins voiced an objection to the payments being deducted from sales tax by the county.
“I don’t like that idea,” said Collins. “If we collected $1 million in sales tax [for example], then that is what our books should reflect. And then we should be the one issuing the check to the county for their payment, so we always have an accounting trail.”
Alderman Jim Martucello recommended the council pass the agreement adding his impression from speaking to county legislators is that the method of payment was an important issue that swayed some legislators to support the agreement. Alderman Dave Gomula said he had the same impression from conversations with legislators.
The county approved the agreement on June 23. The resolution was introduced by John Duchessi and seconded by Bob Purtell, two legislators with districts covering the city. The resolution passed by a vote of 6-3. Both Michael Pepe and Joe Isabel, also two legislators with districts covering the city, voted no, along with District 4 Legislator Robert Headwell Jr.
Council members agreed that proper documentation from the county for accounting purposes would be needed, and the agreement was later passed unanimously.
Mayor Michael Cinquanti said, “It’s been an issue that’s been unresolved for a lot of years. I’m thrilled that it will no longer be unresolved with a solution that intersects with the best interests of the city and the county.”