The city will not be able to process citizens’ tax payments through the internet until 2015 that was the message issued by Anthony Zambrano, the city’s director of finance, during Friday’s budget hearing for his department.
“We just ordered a $200,000 contract for payroll, financial software system,” said Zambrano. The system the director was referring to is from Edmunds & Associates, a financial software company, which allows the city to accept payments for tax bills and sewer bills through the internet, making it easier for residents to pay and reduces the number of individuals needed at the tax office to rummage through papers. “We will explore for that more modern system of Lockbox to pay online; I would like to do both tax and sewer,” said Zambrano.
Julio Tavarez, the 5th Ward councilman, asked the director when the department would put in place a “more modern system” for tax payment, and he received an assurance that it will be done in two years. “It takes a lot more than just putting in software: you must maintain the system, balance systems with each other — especially if it’s a financial system,” said Zambrano.
The director indicated that his department is working on bringing the tax office into the 21st century, but was at first unwilling to provide a time frame. Tavarez told Zambrano that usually when something is being worked on there is a timeline of when “things will happen” and without that time frame, said Tavarez, it is as if a person is attempting to deceive.
“So let’s say before 2015?” asked Tavarez. “I would think less than two years,” said Zambrano. “It will not happen in the next six months.” Neighboring towns: Wayne and Fair Lawn, already have in place an online system, where a resident is able to visit and pay tax bills, not much different from the manner of paying traffic ticket.
Tavarez suggested that the department have something, even if it is just a beta system rolled out to a small number of resident at first, by December 31st of next year. The 5th Ward councilman told the director to have a beta system to test out how the system functions before doing a full conversion. Get “something working so we can have maybe thousand or 500 folks try it out,” said Tavarez.
He said, by having a small number of people trying the system, they can report bugs to the department prior to a full roll out, so as to protect the system from never taking off. He did not want the director to come back in front of the council, after a full conversion, and say: “It doesn’t work anymore, let’s turn it off.”