Union voters will decide Tuesday if the city collector’s position will continue to be elected, or instead will be an appointed position.
In January, aldermen agreed to place a measure on the April 2 municipal ballot asking if voters would like to change how that position is filled.
Now, the city contracts collection services with Franklin County. The salary for the city collector is $1.
City Collector Terry Copeland’s term expires in April 2014.
Union City Administrator Russell Rost said the collector has no duties and that the city has been saving more than $40,000 by contracting collection services with Franklin County.
But Copeland is disputing that claim. He is asking residents to vote against a ballot measure.
Copeland said when the city stripped the pay and duties of the collector, the city created a new position to perform the collector’s duties.
“It is to the point now that it would cost more money,” said Copeland. “They wanted to do it to save money but doubled the salary, so where are they saving money?”
However, Rost noted that there never was a new position created.
“We have not added any employees to replace the city collector,” he said. “The ordinance concerning collection of taxes has been amended so the duties for collection of taxes go to the city administrator or his designee — that was done before last election.”
When the county began collecting taxes for the city, there were four employees, including the city clerk, working in the city’s front office. There still are four employees.
Rost explained that the city is now seeking to fill a position, but not create a new position.
The county charges the city a $4,000 fee for collection services and about 2 percent of the total taxes collected.
If all Union residents would have paid taxes last year, the county would have taken 2 percent of about $1,900,000, or about $22,000.
However not all residents paid the taxes owed.
The benefits and payments to the city’s insurance provider totaled $60,398 for the city collector prior to Copeland.
Copeland has been running ads in The Missourian opposing the change to an appointed position. He said residents should continue to elect the collector.
“I think what they are doing is wrong. We should never want to give up the right to vote on anything,” Copeland said. “Evidently the board is not very patriotic right now.”
Rost said Copeland has had several opportunities to discuss the ballot measure with aldermen, but has chosen not to. He added that Copeland even indicated that he would not oppose the change from an elected to an appointed position.
Copeland said he was not given proper notice of when the issue would be discussed. He added that he was contacted just hours prior to a committee meeting.
Both Rost and Mayor Mike Livengood said Copeland was given advanced notice of meetings in which the collector’s position was to be discussed.
“He was contacted when this was assigned to committee and he was told we were going to discuss it, but he chose not to attend any meetings,” Rost said. “When he was asked for input, he never presented anything — as it stands now we are saving around $40,000 by contracting with county.”
Rost noted that the phone call Copeland received hours before the city meeting was a follow-up call.
Livengood added that he has received calls from residents asking that the city continue to contract collector services with Franklin County.
“The citizens love it because the way we collect taxes now, they don’t have to run all over the place to pay,” he said.
Livengood added that the city has no intention of ending its agreement with Franklin County.
“If someone thinks that is the intention, then they should vote us all out because we would be liars,” Livengood said.