The newly formed Carbon County Tax Collection Committee is working on a way to streamline how the county collects earned income taxes.
During the inaugural meeting on Tuesday evening, the committee elected officers and formed subcommittees.
County Commissioner William O'Gurek, who was required under Act 32 to call the first meeting to order and hold the officer election, welcomed the delegates from the county's municipalities and school districts.
He explained that after this meeting was completed, the county's responsibility was fulfilled. This is because, under the new law, it was the board of commissioners responsibility to announce and lead the first meeting.
He then introduced Attorney Scott Wisler of the office of William Schwab and Associates in Lehighton, who provided a brief summary of what Act 32 of 2008 is, what it requires, and the timeline the county must follow in organizing the earned income tax collection process.
Following Wisler's presentation, O'Gurek conducted the nominations for officers.
Prior to the nominations, members of the committee questioned two informal meetings that were held prior to the inaugural meeting.
Some members felt that those meetings were not fair because the first one did not include school districts and the second one was not known by all parties involved in the committee.
Attorney William Schwab, East Penn Township supervisor, said the first meeting was conducted because of a suggestion by the Pennsylvania School Board Association, which wanted to familiarize the school districts on the new law.
He added that no decisions were made at either of those meetings.
O'Gurek said the county was surprised after it learned of the meetings and felt the school districts were wrong for holding the first meeting without the municipalities.
The committee then voted Schwab, committee chairman; Gerald Grega of the Weatherly School District, vice-chairperson; Lisa Vignone of the Palmerton School District, secretary; Kenneth Marx of the Panther Valley School District, assistant secretary; Michael Malay of the Lehighton School District, treasurer; and Alan Katz of Penn Forest Township, assistant treasurer.
Other topics that were then discussed was the matter of funding, meeting schedules, and who would be on the bylaws committee, audit committee, and request for proposal committee.
The new county tax collection committee was formed because of Act 32 of 2008, which amends the Local Tax Enabling Act.
Under Act 32, counties are now required to form a countywide collection committee and delegate one tax collector who will be responsible for the collection of earned income tax. Act 32 takes effect in 2012.
This new law states that this reduction in the amount of earned income tax collectors will provide for quicker money turnarounds, which means municipalities and school districts will get paid sooner.
Now that officers have been elected, the committee can begin to determine how the earned income tax collection process will work.
The committee makes decisions using a weighted vote system that was determined by the state Department of Community and Economic Development. This weighted vote system is based on a combination of the amount of revenue the municipality or school district collects and its population, in proportion to the revenues collected. For example, Jim Thorpe borough has an earned income tax revenue of $441,980 and has 4,804 residents. That means, based on those two factors, the town's weighted vote is 4.33 percent.
The Carbon County Tax Collection Committee members include delegates from Jim Thorpe, Kidder Township, Penn Forest Township, East Penn Township, Franklin Township, Lehighton, Mahoning Township, Parryville, Weissport, Bowmanstown, Lower Towamensing Township, Palmerton, Towamensing Township, Lansford, Nesquehoning, Summit Hill, Coaldale, East Side, Lausanne Township, Lehigh Township, Packer Township, and Weatherly; as well as Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, Palmerton, Panther Valley and Weatherly school districts.
More information on Act 32 can be found at www.act32info.com.