Basalt should explain tax mess

Taxpayers stunned by the disclosure that the town of Basalt violated state tax laws by over-collecting property taxes for the past nine years deserve a full and transparent account of how this happened. Since proper procedures were either non-existent, flawed or disregarded, new ones should be adopted by the council to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

Town officials have said that the new town CFO performed a due diligence review of the tax levies last year in preparation for the 2019 budget. She discovered the violations, which could cost the town about $2.3 million, and reported it to the town manager and the council.

As a Town Council member for three of the last four years, I see now that we should have been much more aggressive in overseeing the setting of tax rates, one of the most important functions of the council. I believe that we did our fiduciary duty by asking town staff each year if the tax rate complied with the law, but we were not sufficiently proactive. As President Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but verify.”

The town should hold a full inquiry on the process and procedures in place that allowed such a disastrous failure of due diligence and oversight. Reporting this to the public and putting all the relevant documents on the town website would go far toward regaining public trust.

Bernie Grauer