Showing posts with label taxpayers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label taxpayers. Show all posts

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Unwanted Publicity For Delinquent Taxpayers Of Accomack County

Delinquent taxpayers may be getting more unwanted publicity if Supervisor Donald Hart's wishes are fulfilled. Hart called to take a page out of a local business owners book regarding those who owe money.

Referring to Doughty's Market in Melfa, Hart wishes that Accomack County would put up a sign on the County property listing the top delinquent taxpayers.

"People see that sign on Route 13," explained Hart "and those names don't stay up there long."

Supervisor Ron Wolff agreed with the idea saying businesses who owed money to the County would lose business if such a policy was adopted and therefore would be leveraged into paying.

County Attorney Mark Taylor did say during the discussion the County had a legal right to place such a sign. A motion was made and passed by the Supervisors to look into such a sign.

Hart also added he wanted County Treasurer Dana Bundick to go after the assets of delinquent taxpayers who owe balances on properties on Cedar Island that are now under water.

"If my house was under moving land and I didn't pay taxes, I would not be allowed to get away with it," argued Hart. "There was sand under their houses when the tax bills were issued and we should go after any assets they have to collect the debt."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Accomack Property Owners At Risk For Identity Theft

An Accomack County employee returned from apersonal holiday to Las Vegas without a computer that belongs to the county. Files in that laptop contain vital information, including the Social Security numbers of local personal-property owners.

No, Josh Taylor, who works in the Information Technology (IT) Department, didn’t gamble away the equipment. Sources close to the situation say it was stolen from either his hotel room or the vehicle he rode to the airport. Taylor was not available for comment. The taxpayers could become the victims of identity theft.

Local officials said Wednesday they aren’t sure how many files were stored in the computer. They aren’t saying if it was acceptable for Taylor to have taken the laptop on the trip. But they don’t suspect foul play by any of their workers.

Finance Director Mike Mason said the computer was stolen on Oct. 7 and was reported as such to the county on Oct. 8. Another source said Mason sent Taylor home from the job on Tuesday to await further action. Central Accounting told a caller that Taylor was expected back at work Monday. Part of his duties reportedly will be fielding calls from property owners concerned about this issue.

Now officials are trying to figure out how they are going to keep the thief from accessing the programs, how they will deal with Taylor (who is still on the clock), what policies they will enact to keep this mishap from being repeated and what will happen when property owners start complaining. Sources said hiring a company to help with the problems could cost $300,000 to $500,000.
After more than an hour in a closed session. Wednesday evening, Accomack supervisors voted to release a brief statement. Supervisors Ron Wolff and Steve Mallette were absent. Supervisor Phil McCaleb voted against going into the private meeting where personnel issues were discussed and advice from County Attorney Mark Taylor (no relation to Josh Taylor) was obtained. I voted no because I did not believe that all of what we were to discuss was covered by the ‘Closed Meeting’ criteria,” McCaleb said on Thursday in an e-mail. “Our deliberations on what to do and how to handle the employee should be closed.
The stolen computer was the result of ‘brain vacuum’ idiocy and in all likelihood the result of either a lack of a clear written policy regarding laptop computers or a failure to consistently enforce same.

I made the comment in the meeting that I do not believe this is a ‘fireable’ offense unless there is a written policy requiring it.”

According to the statement released by the supervisors, “The
theft is under a separate criminal investigation. There is no allegation
of criminal wrongdoing by the employee or anyone else affiliated with Accomack County.

Accomack County believes that the stolen computer contained a file or files
from which taxpayer identity might be extracted.

Any citizen who is concerned about the security of their identity may request a fraud alert on their credit report by calling 888-766-0008, 888-397-3742 or 800-680-7289.

Citizens who may be affected will receive a more specific written notice from AccomackCounty. This is Accomack County’s entire comment on this matter pending advance of the ongoing criminal investigation and the internal personnel issue involved.” Board Chairwoman Laura Belle Gordy called for Wednesday’s meeting Eastern Shore Post that afternoon.

The announcement stated that the meeting would be closed and would only be used to discuss personnel. The session started at 5 p.m. and began with the usual prayer and
Pledge of Allegiance. Before a motion was made, Gordy said, “I know we can go into closed session for personnel, but that’s not the real reason.” The attorney suggested
that they also meet under another section of law that allows the group to speak privately with him.

County Administrator Steve Miner defined taxpayer identity as name, Social Security number, perhaps address and the personal property owned. He said real-estate holdings are not in question.

Josh Taylor did not attend the session. Miner, Mason, County Treasurer Dana Bundick, Commissioner of the Revenue Leslie Savage and another IT worker attended the private session.

Asked about the IT Department, Miner said there is only one person “who reports back to me” and others who work in IT are under other departments. He said he is unsure if the
employee in question regularly takes the laptop home. “I’m not sure but suspect the answer is no,” Miner said.

"I don’t provide anyone with Social Security numbers,” Savage explained Thursday. “Josh Taylor has been part of the project team” working on software that provides the county with the capability of twice-a-year billing.

Las Vegas Police Officer Marcus Martin said Josh Taylor reported the incident on Oct. 8. Taylor was staying at the Mandalay Bay, an upscale hotel and casino. Upon awakening that morning
he found that clothing was thrown on the floor and the laptop and a red backpack were gone, Martin said.

An investigation of the electronic entry to the room showed that between 10:53 a.m. and 12:35 p.m. on Oct 7 and from 8:14 p.m. Oct 7 and 9:21 a.m. Oct 8, the door to Room 16122, where he
was staying was “not properly latched.” Martin said it is unclear why. Taylor was out of the room between 8 p.m. Oct 7 and 2 a.m. Oct 8 and hadn’t noticed anything missing or in disarray
upon return. Martin added that the case just landed on a detective’s desk and he had not had time to check a video of the hallways.

“It appears the suspect also drank (the contents of) two mini liquor bottles” while in the room, the officer said.

Wow! That's quite a story! But which is it? Was it taken from the rental car or was it taken from the room? From 8 p.m. on Oct. 7 until 2 a.m. on Oct. 8. Taylor was out of his room yet the door was not "properly" latched until 9:21 on the 8th. And whomever stole the laptop from the room was thirsty enough to sit and have a drink. I don't know about anyone else but I don't think so. Not much of this makes alot of sense.

So, because Mr. Taylor was whooping it up in Las Vegas Accomack taxpayers have endure the risk that private information has been obtained by those other than Accomack County workers. Shame on you, Mr. Taylor, for being so inconsiderate! Keeping hours like those it"s quite apparent that you did not intend on doing any "work" while vacationing.

And shame on Accomack County for not knowing if employees ARE allowed to take laptops home. Well, Mr. Taylor and Accomack County officials this isn't the "brain vacuum idiocy" you claim it is. This is lack of consideration for ALL of the people that now may be jeopardized with fraud and identity theft. And YOU expect US to straighten it up by calling the telephone numbers listed.

The county is in bad enough shape without having this happen. Besides, when hard working Accomack County taxpayers pay their taxes we assume our private information is just that. PRIVATE!! Lock those computers to the desks!

Most computer users today go to great extremes making sure that their personal computers do not become privy to hackers. We are very concious about everything we do on our computers.
Identity theft is a horrible thing to happen. And NOW because of ONE person one must be concerned about the practices of the employes hired by the county.