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House passes bill for outgoing tax collectors to turn over records within 60 days

| Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 1:26 a.m.

The state House on Monday passed and sent to the Senate a bill that requires outgoing tax collectors to turn over records to their successors within 60 days of leaving office.

House Bill 2166, introduced by Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, passed by 185-10 with eight not voting. All Mon-Yough assemblymen voted for the bill.

Saccone introduced HB 2166 this spring after a dispute in Forward Township — and found out there were similar problems in other parts of the state.

“Currently the law just says that the outgoing tax collector cannot impede (his or her successor) but does not put a time on it,” Saccone said. “So people can delay and delay.”

“It is about time,” Forward board of supervisors chairman Tom DeRosa said after Monday's board meeting. “The outgoing tax collector could hold you hostage.”

Former Forward tax collector Christine Martin Loughner failed to turn over records by Jan. 15 to William Firczak, who defeated her in the 2013 election.

A township police officer said in an affidavit that Loughner refused to return the records despite repeated requests. DeRosa said the records would be subject to an audit normally held in the spring, but were needed sooner because of the transfer of office to Firczak.

On Feb. 5 the township filed a private complaint against Loughner, charging her with a second-degree misdemeanor of failure to turn over tax records.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled Feb. 24 before Magisterial District Judge Beth S. Mills in Forward but the township withdrew the charges prior to that hearing and she dismissed the charges.

Saccone proposed a 30-day limit but in the House Local Government Committee the bill was amended to give an outgoing tax collector 60 days to turn over their records.

Under his bill Saccone said the outgoing tax collector can keep a copy of the records but must turn the originals over.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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