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Mahoning wants tax collector back

Published December 11. 2013 05:00PM

A petition filed Tuesday in the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas asks the court to appoint Richard P. Swarcheck to a position as Mahoning Township Tax Collector, the same post from which he resigned earlier this year.

In the petition, the petitioner, Eugene S. Durigan, chairman of the Mahoning Township Vacancy Board, details events of what has become a continuing saga over the payment of taxes in the township inasmuch as Swarcheck had been battling physical ailments throughout 2013.

In the suit, Durigan tells the court Swarcheck resigned the position on or about Oct. 21 due to health reasons and that neither the township supervisors nor the vacancy board filled the vacancy during the timeframe set aside for each body. The supervisors had 30 days in which to name a replacement, followed by a 15-day period in which the vacancy board had to act.

Pursuant to Section 407 of the Second Class Township Code, the petition states, "If the vacancy board fails to fill the position within 15 days, the chairman shall, or if there is a vacancy in the chairmanship, the remaining members of the vacancy board shall petition the court of common pleas to fill the vacancy."

Durigan's petition, filed by Attorney Thomas S. Nanovic, township solicitor, states Swarcheck's "health has improved and he has agreed to be reappointed to fill the vacancy of tax collector of Mahoning Township for the remainder of his term."

The term is set to expire at the end of December. Swarcheck will be relinquishing the position to Pauline Homm, who defeated him in the Primary Election earlier this year and went on to win a four-year term starting in 2014.

If the appointment is made by the court, Swarcheck will be able to reconcile tax receipts he apparently received during his illness and payments township residents can make by law until Dec. 31.

While Swarcheck was incapacitated, the township, Lehighton Area School District and Carbon County received numerous complaints and questions calls from taxpayers who were unable to pay their taxes during that time.

Meanwhile, the Lehighton Area School District began collecting its own taxes from Mahoning residents while the township and county took no formal action, although they discussed options and legalities concerning the matter.

Both the township and the county had discussed the idea of hiring an independent auditor to audit the tax duplicates before naming someone to succeed Swarcheck. Those actions appear to be moot pending the court's action on the petition.

The recent turmoil concerning payment of taxes because of Swarcheck's health issues is the second time this year the taxpayers were met with uncertainty.

In May, his office was closed for days before the discount period deadline, prompting public outcry, and residents later learned he had been hospitalized.

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