Carbon County officials want answers to questions circulating around the former Mahoning Township tax collector.
The county commissioners and tax claim bureau this week filed a mandamus civil action against Richard Swarcheck in his capacity as tax collector for the township.
Swarcheck was responsible for collecting and remitting real estate and per capita taxes for Carbon County, Lehighton Area School District and Mahoning Township.
The action includes three complaints that Swarcheck did not meet his required duties.
Swarcheck failed to settle taxes for 2013 according to the local tax collection law.
He remains responsible for the collection and payment of the unpaid taxes charged in duplicates in his possession and for the final and complete settlement of such duplicates in the manner provided by the local tax collection law, according to the complaint.
"To date, Swarcheck has failed and refused to make a final and complete settlement of all taxes for the year 2013, and to make and file affidavits of same in accordance with the law," the county claims.
The second count claims Swarcheck failed to file his annual return for 2013. The real estate tax sale law says tax collectors must file a correct and complete return to the tax claim bureau on an annual basis, detailing all taxes levied, collected or still outstanding.
"To date, Swarcheck has failed and refused to file his annual return of taxes detailing all taxes levied, collected or still outstanding for the tax year 2013 to the bureau," the complaint states.
"The bureau is required to issue annual notices of the return of delinquent taxes and entries of claim for each delinquent property by no later than July 31, but cannot do so unless and until Swarcheck files his annual return of taxes for the affected taxing districts."
The third count claims Swarcheck failed to remit taxes, penalties and interested collected for 2013 to the tax claim bureau.
The county says there is a shortfall in taxes collected and returned to the county on behalf of the county and Mahoning Township for a number of parcels, totaling $950.52; and on behalf of Lehighton Area School District, totaling $3,508.23 for a total of $4,458.75, plus 9 percent interest per year from Feb. 1.
The commissioners are asking the court to order Swarcheck to make a final and complete settlement with signed affidavits and annual return of taxes; as well as remit the full amount of taxes, penalties and interest collected which has not yet been paid to the bureau for 2013 within 30 days.
In April, the county authorized the filing of this action.
The issue with Swarcheck as the Mahoning Township tax collector began in mid-May 2013.
At the time, the Times News reported that following the primary election, Swarcheck's office was closed and he was "nowhere to be found."
A sign on his door at the time stated that "an emergency came up and I had to leave."
In October, Mahoning Township was trying to determine what to do with the problem because it was learned that Swarcheck "was unable to function as tax collector for undisclosed reasons."
Later that month, the township supervisors accepted Swarcheck's letter of resignation, leaving no one to collect taxes.
Lehighton Area School District also decided that it would collect real estate and occupational taxes at its administration office; while Mahoning Township would assume collecting local service taxes and the township's amusement taxes.
In early December, Mahoning hired Kirk, Summa and Co. to audit the books as of Swarcheck's resignation and before naming an interim tax collector to finish out 2013 ahead of Pauline Homm swearing into the position on Jan. 1, 2014.
On Dec. 10, a petition from the Mahoning Township Vacancy Board was filed in the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas asking to appoint Swarcheck to his original position as tax collector for the remainder of the year. The petition was approved on Dec. 13, and Swarcheck was reinstated.