Chief Richard D. Howe
20 Westford Road
Tyngsborough, MA 01879
For Immediate Release
Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Town of Tyngsborough Seeks to Update Public on Tax Collector’s Office Situation
TYNGSBOROUGH — Chief Richard D. Howe and Town Administrator Matthew T. Hanson seek to update the public about the ongoing situation with the town’s Tax Collector’s Office.
Many residents have inquired about how the Town of Tyngsborough plans to prevent this type of event from occurring in the future.
To recap: Until 2016, an elected Tax Collector oversaw the Tax Collector’s office and an appointed Town Treasurer oversaw the Treasurer’s office. Because the tax collector was an elected position the town administration had no oversight authority over the tax collector. In 2016, the Finance Department was restructured and consolidated into a single operating unit with integrated management, overseen by an appointed Finance Director/Town Accountant and appointed Treasurer/Collector, as opposed to the segregated, independent operation that existed during the period in which money was stolen.
This key change, which was implemented by the town in January 2017, is what led to the discovery of the missing tax payments in May.
The town is testing several new software programs and will later this year choose one that offers much more robust auditing tools and tighter system controls.
Of course, the simplest and most effective way to ensure that large quantities of cash payments could never be stolen from the Town in the future was to stop accepting cash payments. As of July 1, 2017, Tyngsborough no longer accepts any cash payments over $50. This has eliminated nearly all cash payments of real estate, personal property and excise tax bills, and payments under $50 will be slowly phased out over the coming years until only checks or credit/debit cards will be accepted for tax payments.
The Finance Department is also working with the Town Administrator and Board of Selectmen on a complete overview and re-write of the Town’s financial policies. The town believes that these changes will greatly improve Tyngsborough’s financial stability and security.
“Making the change to an integrated, appointed Finance Department and a single, appointed Treasurer/Collector has made a world of difference, and the change is directly responsible for uncovering this situation,” Town Administrator Hanson said. “We will continue to modernize our systems, policies, and practices until we are in line with all best practices for 21st century governing.”
Town Administrator Hanson wishes to express his sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Town staff who dedicated significant time and resources to assist in the investigation, particularly the Finance Director, Treasurer/Collector and their department staff and Chief Howe and his Tyngsborough Police department investigators, for working diligently with the District Attorney’s Office and State Police.
“While I cannot comment directly on the ongoing criminal investigation at this time, I want to remind all residents and business owners that I have an open-door policy, and my email address and phone number are widely available on the town website,” Town Administrator Hanson said. “I encourage feedback and comments from the public, and I will always respond to community concerns.”
Chief Howe wishes to thank the town hall staff for their hard work during this process.
“The community should be confident in the staff at town hall, as they are a remarkable group of professionals who have the best interests of our community in mind,” Chief Howe said.