The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has told city tax collector Kathleen Gibson to step down after she failed to renew her certified municipal tax collector certification leaving the city scrambling to hire a new individual to fill the post.
Gibson did not meet the continuing education requirement needed to renew her certification, according to the state.
“A tax collector whose certification has expired is not permitted to act as the certified tax collector of a municipality,” said DCA spokeswoman Tammori Petty on Friday afternoon.
Gibson was told to step down on July 1st, 2016, she said. Gibson said she is appealing the state’s decision.
Petty confirmed the appeal and said the matter has been transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for review. In the meantime, the city is looking to hire a new tax collector to take on her responsibilities, said city law department director Domenick Stampone.
“We followed the state’s recommendation and immediately posted the position,” said Stampone. “We’re having trouble finding anyone with the license that’s required.” He said there are two forms of tax collection licenses — one for fiscal year and another for calendar year.
“99-percent of tax collectors are calendar year,” he said. Paterson is one of the few remaining municipalities on a fiscal year. He said potential candidates have been interviewed, but none have the required fiscal year license.
Stampone said the city may ask the DCA for a waiver to hire someone who has a calendar year license.
The other difficulty is that the position may be extremely temporary for a new hire as Gibson appeals the decision, he said. Gibson appealed to the DCA for a stay but was denied. Now she is further appealing to the Office of Administrative Law, he said.
Gibson remains on the city’s payroll. Stampone said she is handling her responsibilities as the director of licensing at the city. He said the tax collector’s office continues to function as normal as the city seeks a replacement for the longtime tax collector.
Gibson has been working for the city since 1969, according to city records.
Councilman Kenneth Morris, who serves as the chairman for the finance committee, said Gibson should be afforded the opportunity to complete whatever needed courses to meet the continuing education requirement for the certification.
“We don’t have any other person who is nearly as qualified to be the tax collector within the city,” said Morris. He expressed concern at the administration’s move to quickly fill the position because of its propensity to hire people with little experience.
Morris cited the new finance director and assistant budget officer.
“You have an employee who has been doing the job up to the standard necessary for decades,” said Morris speaking about Gibson.