Tax Office Changes Could Add To Coffers

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A new state audit says more than $14 million a year in additional revenue could be collected by the Nevada Department of Taxation if it hires new staff and changes current worker duties.

"It's a lot of dollars," said state Treasurer Brian Krolicki, a member of the Executive Branch Audit Committee that reviewed the report Wednesday.

Taxation Executive Director Chuck Chinnock accepted the auditors' recommendations, calling them "great ideas" that will "help us do our job better."

The audit by the state Division of Internal Audits recommends hiring of up to 19 new employees, along with a change in the status of agency revenue officers involved in debt collections so all can work on recovery of large debts. Now, some are limited to cases involving $2,000 or less.

The committee also was 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 also said the state Bureau of Consumer Protection, which tracks utility rate hike requests, spent about $539,999 on consultant contracts each year - more than all but 10 states in the nation.

A recommendation to rely more on staff instead of consultants was one of a series in the confidential draft audit, which also recommended taking fraud investigations away from the bureau.

The audit was requested by Attorney General Brian Sandoval, who reportedly had some run-ins with Consumer Advocate Tim Hay. Hay was appointed by Sandoval's predecessor, Frankie Sue Del Papa. His term expires in 2005.

The audit report was removed from the Audit Committee's Wednesday agenda because Hay had not been given enough time to respond.

The issue of Hay's reliance on consultants also was raised previously at state Board of Examiners meetings, where Hay explained his policy has been to keep his permanent staff small and use consultants for their specialized expertise.