George Sullivan, Southold Town's Tax Receiver of 16 years, said if he gets elected as Tax Receiver in order to save the Town money — might not be a cost savings at all.
“In theory, that sounds great. I’m all for reducing government spending,” Sullivan said.
But, he said, the Town would have to hire an employee to take over the position within the boundaries of the civil service contract. Sullivan said that he earns just under $35,000 a year and in the long term, the employee hired to fill the position would cost the tax payers more in salary and benefits. Sullivan also said that under state law, the town clerk would have to be compensated for the additional responsibilities that office would assume.
He said his job as tax receiver comes as “second nature” to him and that his knowledge of accounting has helped him explain tax bills to the public.
“I give a personal, courteous and prompt response to taxpayers. They like that someone from the government actually speaks to them,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan, 67, defines himself as a doer and says he has never let adversity prevent him from being involved in causes he believes in or from his responsibilities to the town.
A Southold resident for nearly 40 years, Sullivan raised his two children here and is now watching his grandchildren grow here, too. He has watched his private practice grow and, as receiver of taxes, has built relationships with both the public and government officials over the years.
After graduating from Iona College with a degree in accounting, Sullivan enlisted in the United States Marines in 1966. A year later he was injured and had his leg amputated as a result of those injuries.
But he said, he never let his injury stop him. He went on to receive an MBA in taxation from New York University, became a certified public accountant and attended Fordham Law School. He moved his family to Southold in 1973 and started his own practice.
Sullivan spends a lot of his free time on veteran’s causes. He was on the committee that created the Suffolk County Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Farmingville and is participating in bringing the Vietnam Moving Wall to New York City next month. He has even visited amputees coming back from Iraq at Walter Reed Medical Center with the Disabled American Veterans to offer advice and counseling.
“I remember when I was in the hospital. No one came to see me and I did not want these guys to feel that way,” he said.
Sullivan has made several changes in how residents pay taxes, including payment of taxes at local banks and allowing tax payers to pay online at no cost to the town. The next change he would like to see is allowing customers to pay their bills by credit cards.