DETROIT (WXYZ) - The Wayne County Treasurer is taking a bonus for collecting taxes from struggling homeowners. Some local leaders are outraged – saying the treasurer should not take the extra money.
Wayne County Commissioners say Raymond Wojtowicz is the only county treasurer in this state who’s still taking this extra pay-out.
But he says he’s earned it.
Wojtowicz is in line to receive a bonus worth $23,178. The extra pay out is in addition to his $115,891 salary.
Some Wayne County Commissioners say he should refuse to accept the money.
“He’s the only one in state of Michigan receiving these funds because he’s grandfathered in. But we feel very strongly he should not take these because of all the other constraints we have in Wayne County,” said Commissioner Bernard Parker (D-Detroit).
“I just think he ought to give it up. It’s the right thing to do,” said Commissioner Burton Leland (D-Detroit).
Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanksi says Wojtowicz is entitled to the money as part of a county program that takes on the debt of unpaid taxes from local communities.
The treasurer secures loans to pay the cities for the delinquent taxes – which helps those communities balance their budgets.
The treasurer’s office then takes over the job of going after those unpaid property taxes from struggling homeowners.
Szymanski says Wojtowicz is entitled to the bonus thanks to a state law that was created in the 1970s.
“He’s going to take the money, what he does with it, is his own decision. Whether he’ll keep it to feed his family, yes, he’s not destitute, he makes a good living. But he works very hard on behalf of the taxpayers,” said Szymanski.
Szymanski says the Treasurer has taken a 10% pay cut, and a 10% cut to the annual bonus for the tax program. For the last 26 years, Szymanski says Wojtowicz earned about $540,000 in extra pay.
"Nothing here has been hidden, it's not underhanded. It's all up front," said Szymanski.
“Shame on you! You know how hard my people work! You need to be sharing that money with them,” said Joyce Ivory, president of the union that represents workers in the treasurers’ office.
“I think it’s absurd. My employees do extra work. They don’t get a bonus. They’re the ones that are collecting the monies for these delinquent taxes, where’s their share,” asked Ivory.
Commissioners say they voted to approve the funding for the Treasurers tax program, because it would devastate the budgets of local communities if the program ended. And even though they don’t have the power to stop the bonuses – the still asked Wojtowicz not to take the extra cash.
“We can’t take it away from him, but we can ask him not to take it – so that’s exactly what we did. We asked him not to take it, we’ve done it in the past,” said Commissioner Laura Cox (R-Livonia).
The Macomb County treasurer has been in office long enough to qualify for the bonuses but he says he refuses to take them. Ted Wahby says the law should be abolished – and that he could never in good conscience charge the tax payers more money to do the job he’s already paid to do.
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