Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fired Tax Assessor Sues for Her Job Back

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fired Tax Assessor Sues for Her Job Back

Article excerpt

WOODCLIFF LAKE - Former borough Tax Assessor Barbara Potash has sued the Woodcliff Lake mayor and Council for wrongful termination, claiming she was removed for "political reasons" -- a long-running dispute with the mayor over tax appeals.

Potash, a Haskell resident, was appointed tax assessor in 2003 to a four-year term and then in 2007 to a tenured term, which according to state statute meant she could be removed only for just cause or until she retired, said her attorney, Joseph Mariniello.

Potash, who accused Mayor Jeffrey Goldsmith of interfering with residents' tax appeals, was forced to leave work on July 9, according to the complaint filed Friday in state Superior Court in Hackensack. The complaint said Potash received a call that day from the borough's police chief, who said he was ordered to remove her in handcuffs if she did not leave immediately.

The complaint says Potash never received any hearing or charges of any wrongdoing regarding her work.

Goldsmith said Tuesday, "We don't believe there is any merit to the complaint and our attorney is preparing a response." He wouldn't comment on anything specific.

Woodcliff Lake Attorney Paul Kaufman said the complaint is "completely erroneous." Kaufman declined to comment on specific allegations but said a response will be filed with the court soon.

The complaint charges that since 2012, when Goldsmith was sworn in, the mayor has spoken directly to taxpayers about tax appeals. Potash objected, believing this could have an effect on other appeals at a time when Woodcliff Lake properties had been newly reassessed. The suit alleges this created resentment between her and the mayor, leading to a "hostile work environment and harassment."

"For 10 years, I never had a problem with any mayor, any council, up until last year, when without notice I was discharged," Potash said Tuesday.

The interference led to pressure on Potash's work, she said, and she eventually complained to the Bergen County Tax Board, which led to a complaint with the attorney general. …

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