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Schuylkill commissioners extend contracts

The Schuylkill County Commissioners extended to Dec. 31 the contracts for Virginia Murray and Anthony Alu in the tax assessment office by a 2-1 vote last Wednesday.

Commissioner Gary Hess voted no. Afterward, Hess explained his decision.

“This has nothing to do with the professionalism and work of Ms. Murray or Mr. Alu,” Hess said.

Rather, he said it is because he is against the restructuring of the tax assessment and tax claim offices.

Previously, he also mentioned the ongoing litigation of Commissioner George Halcovage Jr.

Commissioners voted in April to bring back Murray, who had been the chief assessor until her retirement in 2019. She had been hired under a consulting contract to help with the procedure, policy and timeliness in the assessment office.

Murray will help with assessment appeals, County Administrator Gary Bender said.

Alu was hired previously on a consulting contract to provide oversight to the tax assessment office, training to new and existing employees and assist in the transitioning to a new chief assessor. Alu will be brought back for phone consultations, Bender said.

Kent Hatter, the chief assessor, was hired May 24. The vote was 2-1 with Hess voting no for the same reasons he voted no for Murray.

Regarding the restructuring of the offices, Angela Murray had been the chief assessor in the assessment office and tax claim director and is presently the tax claim director.

Denise McGinley-Gerchak was the assistant director of the tax assessment/claim office. She is now the assistant director of tax claim.

The pay of both women decreased.

Christine Zimmerman is the deputy chief assessor.

Hatter praised the work ethic of Murray and Alu.

Hatter said he had requested to Bender both stay on.