Tyrone Area makes changes to tax collector compensation

Last night, the Tyrone Area School District voted to cut tax collector compensation from $2.50 per parcel to $1.50 per parcel and voted to decrease the Earned Income Tax commission rate from 3 percent to 2.5 percent.
The decisions came during a special meeting on tax collector compensation. The board met for about 15 minutes and heard public comment then went into executive session to discuss litigation.
After an hour, the board reconvened and voted on the tax collector compensation motion. The decision was 8 to 0 in favor of cutting the amount paid to tax collectors in the district. The board had voted down the $1.50 amount by a 6 to 3 vote at a regular meeting last week.
Initially, the district was seeking to reduce the tax collector compensation to 41 cents per parcel, according to an agenda from last week’s regular meeting. After discussion in an executive session prior to last week’s meeting, the motion was revised to the $1.50 figure.
School Superintendent Dr. William N. Miller said last week the “no” vote at the Feb. 8 meeting showed a “variance of opinion” on the issue. He also indicated school board members voted “no” for different reasons.
Last week, administrators also indicated they planned to meet with officials from the various municipalities which make up the district prior to last night’s special meeting.
However, Snyder Township Supervisor James L. Miller said no one from the district met with him or the township since the regular meeting last week or before it to discuss the tax collector compensation issue. Miller made his comments outside the meeting room while the board met in executive session.
During public comment, Miller presented three letters from each of the Snyder supervisors explaining concerns over whether or not people would run for the tax collector’s position if the board decreased compensation.
Another issue raised in the supervisors’ letters was the idea of having the tax collector deputize someone at the district’s tax office to collect the taxes.
Supervisor Miller said, “I know if this situation were reversed the school board members would not go along” with being responsible for money collected by someone else.
This morning, Supervisor Miller told The Daily Herald, “My true feeling is it’s what I expected. (The board) is a rubber stamp for Dr. Miller. What we need is an elected superintendent. Seven people determine who runs the school district. I think that’s terrible.”
The Snyder Township official explained he felt all the voters in the district should have a say in who sits in the superintendent’s chair.
After the meeting, school board president Lee Stover said the district met in executive session because of the possibility of litigation with Tyrone Borough because of the reduction.
Stover also explained why the board voted in favor of the $1.50 amount.
“Even though we had a number much lower than that, it’s important to keep in mind we have to look at other compensation in other districts and that (the $1.50 figure) is more in line with what’s occurring in districts like Hollidaysburg.”
Stover had expressed last week the district’s desire to be efficient, at the time he said, “We have new technology, and we are using the technology effectively, and we are able to lower some of those costs significantly. That to me is an intelligent use of your investment of the people’s money in technology to make a better operating system.”
Stover also explained the vote to reduce the amount the district collects from municipalities, the Earned Income Tax commission rate, from 3 percent to 2.5 percent effective July 1, 2005.
“Again, we are concerned about being efficient. We feel the way things are going, it can be done probably at that amount,” said Stover. “In addition, that gives the borough and the supervisors money back. If they have to adjust compensation rates, there is some money to do it with.”
Stover said the change could mean a savings of a few thousand dollars a year for the district.
This morning, Business Administrator Cathy Peachey confirmed Tyrone Borough decided not to pursue litigation after the issues were discussed between the parties.
Supervisor Miller was asked where Snyder Township stood on the possibility of litigation and he indicated he planned “to try to pursue it.”
Two local tax collectors attended last night’s meeting, Annette Fry of Warriors Mark and Betty Layton of Franklin Township.
Layton told The Daily Herald this morning, “I wasn’t surprised, I thought they might go to 41 cents. It seems like they must have had some kind of deal with the borough.”
She also questioned the board’s decision to vote on the EIT commission rate. She noted it was not on the agenda and wondered whether or not if it was legal for the board to vote on it. She also said she did not plan to run for tax collector this year because of the compensation reduction.
This morning, Dr. Miller was asked about the motion and vote on the EIT commission rate.
He said, “We should have advertised the special meeting as a regular meeting. During the negotiations with the borough, part of the package was we would change the EIT commission rate from 3 to 2.5 percent.”
Miller said the change would apply for the borough and all the townships in the district
He said because the EIT commission rate wasn’t on the agenda, last night’s vote was null and void. He said the board would correct the error by voting on the issue again at its next regular meeting in March.
Also this morning, the Snyder Township tax collector, Nancy Kilmartin, confirmed she was retiring after 20 years of service. She said she had made up her mind prior to the school board’s vote, but the district’s decision “solidified it.”
She said she wanted to get the word out, so people interested in the position would know she wasn’t seeking reelection.
The new tax collector compensation rate is scheduled to go into effective on Jan. 1, 2006. The board was required to make a decision by last night or the current $2.50 rate would have remained in effect for another four years.