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Schuylkill County controller and commissioners are at odds, again

Published August 25. 2011 05:02PM

Another controversy is brewing between County Controller Melinda Kantner and the Schuylkill County Commissioners.

Following the commissioners public meeting Wednesday Kantner held a press conference in her office accusing the commissioners of not handling meal voucher payments for county workers attending conferences and meetings according to regulations of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Kantner claims she is following the recommendations of the IRS, with whom she has been in constant communication. Kantner claims, it is within the employer's discretion to provide meal reimbursements as a fringe benefit. It is, however, up to the IRS to determine whether those reimbursements are taxable or non-taxable. Kantner added that the commissioners continue to ignore her recommendations and she is forced to review each meal voucher payments issued. The controller has to approve the voucher before payment is made. Kantner claims her job is made more difficult because the commissioners bar her from speaking to employees and must deal with any issues through the commissioners.

Mark Scarbinsky, county administrator, said the commissioners had met with Kantner and had listened to her "interpretation' of the IRS standards. The commissioners last January hired Attorney William Kirwan, a tax expert, who reviewed the county's regulations associated with tax meal reimbursement. One change made was a limit on compensation. Scarbinsky also said meal reimbursements were negotiated under union contracts with the employees. "The county stands firm on implimentation of its policy," Scarbinsky concluded.

Kantner insists the county is not handling appropriately the IRS policy and could face auditing and pay back taxes and fines and costs.

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