Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/05/2010 09:58:13 PM PDT

Grand Terrace officials say confidentiality agreements still prevent them from discussing possible repercussions of the recent discovery that elected officials have never paid taxes on their stipends, and it is unclear when those agreements will end.

The Internal Revenue Service defines elected officials as employees of the city they serve, required to withhold part of their income. Members of the City Council and Planning Commission have not done so since Grand Terrace was incorporated in 1978.

Noting that they had inadvertently violated the law, the City Council voted Aug. 24 to require current and past members of the Planning Commission and council to pay the previous three years’ taxes.

Because they were meeting in closed session, city representatives said they could not reveal why they decided to pay only for three years or whether the IRS could require further payments or criminal penalties.

Councilman Walt Stanckiewitz, who uncovered the problem when he asked his accountant how to handle his city income, said he wants to go public as soon as possible.

“My intent is that at the next City Council meeting we raise the veil and let the people see,” he said, suggesting that the council waive attorney-client privilege.

That requires the consent of his colleagues, however, and those who could be reached were more guarded.

“The council decided to take this into closed session with the advice of the city attorney, so we’ll do it,” Mayor Maryetta Ferre said. “We will go through the correct process, and we’ll do it transparently.”

Ferre declined to predict when closed sessions would end or to respond to Stanckiewitz’s suggestion.

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