To the editor:

To the editor:

This letter is being written to support retaining the current city-run tax department.

I have considered the arguments, both pro and con, and my conclusion is that the service to Gahanna residents becomes the foremost consideration.

The premise really reduces down to who services whom, the taxpayers to the city or the city to the taxpayers.

Since my retirement from the U.S. Army in 1983, I have been a volunteer in both the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) and the TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) programs of the Internal Revenue Service. It has been my privilege to have been the several-county coordinator for the TCE program, volunteer to do taxes for the elderly in Gahanna, teach income tax to volunteers and to have been a tax preparer in the VITA program. I also was a Franklin County VITA coordinator and a VITA site coordinator.

During this time, we have referred many Gahanna residents to stop at the Gahanna tax department to file their Gahanna income taxes, which we might have prepared for them. The convenience of having this service available and the service received, in my opinion, has been a high mark in the kind of service a municipality should provide to its residents. I have to give a grade of "A" to how helpful the employees in the tax department have been.

At the same time, in the VITA program, where taxes are collected by an outside agent, many times I have found taxpayers are confused. There are instances where volunteer tax preparers have found an element of confusion.

Understanding the belief that the amount of tax received by the city could increase, but by an uncertain estimate, as well as the cost of having the task of tax collection done by others, it is still my firm belief that the desire to increase tax collection by an uncertain amount, as well as the inconvenience of having lost local service, is overcome by the need to retain this service for Gahanna taxpayers.

I would have attended the most recent council meeting to voice my opinion, but physical problems are hindering my ability to get to everything in which I have an interest.

During my time as director of public service for the city of Gahanna, my foremost premise was that I was in the honorable profession of being a public servant whose first duty was the needs of the community. We operated on a budget that those in the office today would consider impossible. Yet we took care of the needs of our residents and did so without the need of an income tax.

Things are different today, and our ability to perform tasks inexpensively, then, is no longer possible.

One thing has not changed, though: The government in our great nation is still one of the people, not the other way around.

So to conclude, it is my urgent hope and desire that service is not forgotten and that the tax department is retained as it is.

James M. Abraham, P.E.

Brigadier General, USA, Ret.

Gahanna