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COVID 19 & Paying School Taxes in September

The following is a column written by Webster Town Supervisor Thomas Flaherty that he has asked us to share with our #OneWebster community:
Hard to believe we are coming up on six months since "all of our worlds changed" and terms like social distancing, masks, etc. started dominating our lives. COVID-19 has been challenging for all of us and those challenges are very individualized based on your personal and professional life. 
 
One thing I have struggled with as Town Supervisor during COVID-19 is the "lack of being able to be out there amongst the people". In February prior to the home quarantining, I was enjoying going to different events and getting to meet and know more Webster citizens. I felt that was helping me get a pulse on what topics and issues were really amongst the majority and not just the echo chamber rantings of social media "keyboard warriors".
 
With Town hall opening to the public "without the need for an appointment" as of July 20th, we have seen the daily visits by citizens go up from approximately 50 a day to 60 in 5 weeks. The good news... people are feeling more comfortable getting out. The bad news.... 60+ visitors a day to town hall and the interaction with the 40+ employees who work there causes challenges in COVID-19. Sanitizing, social distancing, plexiglass barriers, masks and answering health questions are mandatory. Some citizens completely understand and comply with NO question.... some are annoyed by it but comply, albeit begrudgingly .... and some overtly fight it by saying they won't wear a mask, sanitize their hands and/or answer the health questions.  Simply said... the receptionist position is a LOT more complex today than it was prior COVID-19.
 
September historically is the month where many Webster citizens go into town hall to pay their school taxes in person. Based on the math I have done, it averages about 100-150 people a day coming into town hall in past Septembers to pay their taxes. As such, I cannot stress this enough...... putting an additional 100-150 citizens a day into town hall over the current average of 60 will put stress on the safety system in place, to the point where it most likely is NOT manageable for either the town staff or citizens. So it pains me to say this... but for our citizens and town staff physical and mental health and safety, PLEASE PAY YOUR SEPTEMBER SCHOOL TAXES IN ANY MANNER AVAILABLE OTHER THAN COMING INTO TOWN HALL TO DO IT IN PERSON!!!!!!
 
The means made available in COVID-19 are "unique" from past years and include the following: USPS mail, online via credit card with the 3% fee waived by County Executive Bello, drop box in vestibule of Ridge Road entrance to town hall, and at the M+T branch at 935 Hard Road. For more details on these payment options, please visit the town website at www.ci.webster.ny.us and hit the "department" link on the homepage and then "Receiver of Taxes". 
 
As always, feel free to call me at 585-872-7068 or e-mail supervisor@ci.webster.ny.us.
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