More taxes can be collected, but it’ll take more staff | NevadaAppeal.com

More taxes can be collected, but it’ll take more staff

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

The governor’s audit division says Nevada’s Department of Taxation can bring in an estimated $15 million more every year by improving its audit procedures and reorganizing.

But it will take at least 19 additional people on Taxation’s payroll and “two or three” more lawyers in the Attorney General’s Office to do the job.

Executive Branch Audit Division chief Bill Chisel and auditor Mike Colburn told the audit committee headed by Gov. Kenny Guinn that the department should hire seven more tax examiners to free up revenue officers, who find businesses and make them pay up, generating up to $5 million a year. They said the state should hire seven more revenue officers to pursue those delinquent accounts.

And it recommended five additional staff members be dedicated to hunting down businesses that aren’t paying taxes.

Auditors also recommended the Taxation Department make more aggressive use of liens, withholds on bank accounts and seizing personal property to collect money owed the state. The audit report says only one seizure and three withholds were used in 40 delinquent accounts examined.

The auditors also recommended the department look into private collection agencies to pursue out-of-state debts which could bring in $1.3 million more.

“As things evolve, I think there’ll be a need for me to ask for a couple more positions,” Attorney General Brian Sandoval said after hearing the audit report.

If the governor and lawmakers wanted to add the staff, he believes they could bring in far more money than the cost of their salaries, Sandoval said.

The committee was also told changes in recording and controlling employee hours have reduced overtime in the Department of Corrections by $5.5 million in the past year.

Prisons director Jackie Crawford credited deputy director Glenn Whorton for the staffing changes she said have reduced the problem. She said Whorton identified numerous places where staffing could be reduced — such as in areas to which inmates have no access at night when they are locked in their cells.

Auditors recommended streamlining and centralizing food, clothing and other items purchased for sale in prison coffee shops and inmate stores. The committee was told each store has been buying on its own, which means the prison system has been missing out on bulk discounts and other savings. Consolidating purchasing would have increased profits by $111,000 in 2002, the audit says.

Auditors also recommended cutting back the variety of some items, such as the more than 200 types of candy and 80 different soda flavors.