With voter approval, Buchanan will be town clerk and receiver of taxes 

Lynne Buchanan

Lynne Buchanan

GUILDERLAND — Lynne Buchanan says she got her work ethic from her father, Bill Buchanan, who started Altamont Glass back in 1979. “I watched him work hard, and that’s where I have my work ethic from. You get up in the morning, do your job.” 

Pretty soon, if approved by voters, Lynne Buchanan will get up in the morning and do two jobs. 

Currently, she is the town’s receiver of taxes. She is running unopposed in November for town clerk and has proposed to the town board combining that post with her current post. 

Voters will decide in a referendum on Nov. 5 whether to combine the jobs. Buchanan is a lifelong resident of the town, born and raised in Altamont. She and her brother still own the strip mall across from the fairgrounds, she said. 

She is running, she said, because she sees it as “a great opportunity to still serve the residents, in a different capacity.” She looks forward to a new challenge, after being in the tax office for 10 years, which she said “can get a little routine, monotonous.” 

She has been the receiver of taxes for the past six years. Before that she was the deputy receiver of taxes for three-and-a-half years, under Jean Cataldo, who is the current clerk and who is retiring at the end of the year. 

Of Cataldo, Buchanan said, “Jean and I make a great team. I will miss Jean dearly. She’s a special person.” 

Buchanan also worked for six months in the town comptroller’s office, she said, where she had a chance to see the budget being created and to see how other monies come in and how they are disbursed. 

Her priority as town clerk will be “to maintain customer service first and foremost, absolutely,” she said. Customer service, she said, entails taking time for residents, whether on the phone or at the town hall counter, and listening. 

If the posts are combined, Buchanan said, the deputies in the two offices — Tracy Mayer in the tax office and Anna Russo in the clerk’s office — would be cross-trained. 

The tax office is busy in January and September, she said, but even then it’s not busy 24/7. For instance, she said, town offices get a lot of mail on Mondays, but not a lot on Tuesdays, so Tuesdays can serve as a kind of catch-up day, even during those busy periods. 

About a year ago, Buchanan’s deputy moved on to a different organization, and Buchanan has had just a floater — an employee who fills in at different departments as needed — come in on Mondays to open mail. So, although Buchanan would not want to repeat the experience, she said, she learned she could do the work alone. With the change she has proposed, she would have a staff of three — herself and the two deputies. 

She does not believe that combining the offices will create issues that need to be ironed out. She said she feels like any issues in the tax office have been worked out, redirected. She has been working to streamline procedures in the tax office for years, to cut back on repetitive tasks, she told The Enterprise earlier. 

In the clerk’s office, she doesn’t see a lot of space for making changes, she said. “In the town clerk’s office, it’s already running very smoothly, and it’s regulated. There are times and procedures that have to be followed.” 

She believes the clerk’s office is as streamlined as it can get, she said. She has already begun training there. 

Asked about the procedures for different kinds of licenses the office gives out, Buchanan said hunting licenses are regulated by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. She herself is not authorized to give out marriage licenses yet, but she has watched Cataldo and Russo do it, she said. 

If the offices are combined, the work of issuing marriage licenses would not be combined, she said: She, as town clerk, and Anna Russo, as deputy town clerk, would be the only ones to do it.

Asked if the town performs weddings, she said one employee, Heather Weinhold, does. Weinhold is not part of the clerk’s office; she works in the assessor’s office. When she officiates at weddings during business hours, for instance, in front of the town hall, she is not paid anything beyond her regular salary. Weinhold is paid by the bride and groom only if she performs weddings outside of business hours. 

Buchanan would like to see dog licensing go online, to provide residents with another option, she said. Doing this online could be convenient for some residents, she said, noting that any credit-card payments to the town require the resident to pay a third-party vendor surcharge. The surcharge goes directly to the vendor, she said, and is the actual processing fee. 

Buchanan said that, at this point, none of the procedures in the offices of clerk or receiver of taxes are digitized. She does not know much about digitization, she said, but this would be an area to explore. 

The only things in those offices that can now be paid online are taxes and water bills, she said. When the town receives online payment for those, it prints out the receipts, bundles them, and keeps the hard copies for six years, she said. 

On the town’s software, she said, records go further back than that, to 2003, for both taxes and water. 

In terms of the work of the tax office, both the tax rolls and the water-billing journals are permanent, she said, and so both should be digitized. 

Many town records are held in storage at 1515 Western Ave., a tan building with blue shutters in front of Stuyvesant Plaza known as the McKownville reservoir building. Buchanan said she believes there has been some discussion about looking for a grant to begin digitizing some of them. 

She has not had any experience writing grant applications — the town has a grant writer, Donald Csaposs, she noted — but she said that that is something she would be interested in down the road. 

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