A countywide tax collector, which will collect all earned income taxes in Carbon County beginning in 2012, has been named.
During the Carbon County Tax Collection Committee meeting on Wednesday evening, the board discussed which tax collector would suit the county's needs. Out of the four proposals received, three companies Berkheimer and Associates of Bangor, Central Tax Bureau of Pennsylvania Inc. of Pittsburgh, and Capital Tax Collection Bureau of Harrisburg received motions for making them the county's tax collector. Central Tax eventually received enough votes and was named the new collector.
Before the vote, the municipal delegates, which make up the committee, were given the opportunity to voice their feelings on each of the companies. They pointed out both the pros and cons of each collector, including fees associated with the collection, past experiences with the companies, and the quality of the company's work.
Attorney William Schwab, the East Penn Township delegate and chairman of the committee, noted that East Penn Township has dealt with two of the companies, Berkheimer and Central Tax, and he felt they both did a great job. The only comparison that he noted between the two was that each company collected the same amount in a year for the township, but Central Tax gave more of the taxes collected to East Penn than Berkheimer did.
Kenneth Marx, chairman of the RFP Subcommittee, made the recommendation to hire Berkheimer as the collector, but the motion failed to receive a supermajority vote of over 66 percent of the weighted vote.
The weighted vote system for the five Carbon County school districts and 23 municipalities involved in the committee is based on a formula 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.
A second motion was made to name Central Tax as the county tax collector, but again that motion was defeated when only 60 percent of the delegate weighted vote was in favor of hiring the company.
John Wieczorek, the Mahoning Township delegate, then made a motion to hire Capital Tax as the county tax collector, but that motion died for lack of a second.
Schwab called a short recess to allow the delegates to talk it over among themselves and make phone calls to their municipal councils.
Following the recess, Schwab explained that if the committee did not choose a tax collector at that meeting, they will have to petition the court to let the court decide which company would be named the county tax collector.
Sept. 15 was the deadline set by DCED for all tax collection committees in the state to decide on a tax collector.
A fourth motion was made to hire Berkheimer as the collector, but again that motion failed when only 43 percent of the delegate votes were in favor of Berkheimer.
A fifth motion was then made to hire Central Tax. This motion nearly passed, but failed as only 63.42 percent voted in favor of it.
More discussion among the group took place in the hopes of finding a solution. The group then took a second short recess to again make phone calls and talk in private.
When the group came back into session, a final motion was made to hire Central Tax as the county tax collector.
Schwab noted before the vote that if this motion fails, the group would be deadlocked and would then notify DCED that a decision could not be reached.
The motion passed as a total of 75.17 percent voted in favor of hiring Central Tax as the county tax collector.
The committee solicitor, Keith Strohl from Steckel and Stopp of Slatington, and Schwab will now work on a contract for the collector.
The next meeting of the tax collection committee has not been announced. Schwab stated that the date will be determined once the contract is prepared.
The county tax collection committee was formed in October 2009 because of Act 32 of 2008, which amends the Local Tax Enabling Act.
Under Act 32, counties were 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 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.
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.