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Camp Verde keeps its tax man
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 01:00
The Town of Camp Verde has renewed a contract with an accountant whose job is to pore over tax records and financial documents looking for any money local government is owed that might have gotten lost on the way to the bank account.

Don Zelechowski has worked for Camp Verde for the past year since former Town Manager Michael Scannell brought Zelechowski’s services to the attention of the Camp Verde Town Council.

In that year, Zelechowski more than earned his pay for the part-time assignment, identifying nearly $80,000 in taxes due to the town. A large chunk of that number was the result of a clerical error that sent the money to a different municipality. It’s a welcome service for the town’s elected leaders who are facing a tight budget year forcing them to look high and low for every dollar.

The town refers to what Zelechowski does as a “taxpayer education program.”

Zelechowski goes around talking to contractors and business people, showing them how to properly calculate what taxes they are required to pay and generally get the word out there about proper accounting practices.

Some people just aren’t aware of what’s required of them, Zelechowski said.

He’s also been looking at people who own rental properties to make sure they know what taxes apply to them, which can be difficult at times because not every property owner accurately lists what they own as rental property.

His work is also that of a finance detective of sorts, reviewing tax records and payments to make sure everything adds up.

Zelechowski said when he started working in Camp Verde, he was “afraid of kicking the hornet’s nest.” In fact, when his services were first proposed in early 2009, many local businesspeople protested, decrying what they thought would be an interference and a detriment to their businesses.

However, since working in Camp Verde, Zelechowski said the business community’s response to his work has “been quite positive.”

Camp Verde Mayor Bob Burnside“To me, it’s a real win-win situation,” Zelechowski said. “These people are trying to live the American dream, and I want to help them do that .... I don’t want them to get tripped up down the road because I didn’t do my job.”

Council agreed last week to set aside $19,400 to keep Zelechowski on board through June of next year. At the accountant’s hourly rate, Mayor Bob Burnside said Zelechowski would be working on the town’s behalf an average of eight hours a week.

Burnside also said he’d like to see Zelechowski continue efforts to train town employees by showing them exactly what he does.

 

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