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PA - Tax collectors upset over paperwork snafus
By Eric Mayes Standard-Journal writer
LEWISBURG - Union County commissioners were faced with a tax revolt last night, this one by tax collectors not taxpayers.
A group of 13 tax collectors voiced their concerns over the way this year's tax bills have been handled.
The bills are supposed to be received by July 1. Many weren't mailed until July 15. They were late this year because of changes in the Clean and Green laws and a chronic shortage of employees in the assessor's office, officials said earlier.
Although they voiced concerns on a reduction in the amount they are paid by the school district and the extra work caused by the library tax, the tax collectors' major concern is the volume of supplemental bills that are still being sent out.
"Why are we getting all these supplements?" asked Union Township tax collector John Reichley.
"To make it fair for the taxpayer," said commissioner Harry Van Sickle.
The commissioners approve changes to both real estate and occupational tax bills at their meetings almost every week. Each time a change is made a supplement is sent out with the correction.
"I can tell you one thing," said Reichley. "In prior years we didn't have this."
Many of the problems stem from the new computerized system the county uses to print the tax bills. Everyday errors such as paper being put in the machine wrong, bills not being correctly proofread and addresses that aren't updated, all add to the tax collectors' headaches, they said.
The group also blamed Chief Assessor Dennis Hause.
"If he doesn't have his work done, why was he sent on vacation when the tax bills were due?" asked Reichley. "It's like rubbing salt in the wound."
The county may consider sending out tax bills twice a year, commissioners Robert O. Brouse Jr. and Van Sickel said. that would reduce the need for so many supplements. Van Sickle pointed out that most counties in the state already do that.
Billing twice a year would actually save money. Right now the county is forced to borrow money to tide it over from January to July. Interest has to be paid on that. This year $2.2 million was borrowed.
"It seems to me with all the concerns in the room, somebody ought to take some serious notes...to work for a solution," said Gregg Township supervisor Ed Byers, who is also the husband of Sue Byers, the tax collector in Gregg.
-- Doris (email@example.com), September 28, 2000