Interim manager could collect some taxes in Monroeville
By Kyle Lawson
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The future of Act 511 tax collection in Monroeville remains in question after one council member changed his vote at the Feb. 12 meeting.
Council initially voted 4-3 against transferring responsibility for the collection of the taxes from the tax collector to the manager's office. Council members Jim Johns, Steve Duncan, Nick Gresock and Clarence Ramsey voted in the majority.
Then, after public debate shifted to the demotion of former police Chief Doug Cole, Ramsey interjected that he wanted to change his vote regarding the tax collection.
He said he changed his vote based on residents' criticism of himself and three other council members involved in Cole's demotion.
“Because all the ridicule they were getting up here,” Ramsey said after the meeting. “It was too much.”
Solicitor Bruce Dice said that because the ordinance already was rejected, council will have to vote again in March.
Council member Lois Drumheller sponsored the ordinance to move 511 tax collection to the manager's office. She said the change would save the municipality tens of thousands of dollars.
Act 511 taxes in Monroeville are delinquent earned income taxes, local service tax, mercantile tax and business privilege taxes. Tax collector Pat Fulkerson is elected to collect property taxes for the municipality and Gateway School District.
Fulkerson earns $31,600 for 511 tax collection, and with benefits and Social Security, the cost to his employers for that position is about $65,500, according to the 2013 payroll.
If Fulkerson is removed as supervisor for 511 tax collection, the municipality would provide him four month's severance, according to Drumheller's proposal.
Fulkerson said that a substantial portion of his salary is paid for by the Gateway School District. He said the district would not pay the municipality his former salary if he was gone.
“There's not a major savings in this whole bit,” said Fulkerson, adding that if he was removed from the position, he would retire and the municipality would have to pay his pension and benefits.
But interim manager Lynette McKinney said the municipality would recover the majority of what Gateway is paying Fulkerson. She said Fulkerson's employees who collect for Gateway would continue to do so, therefore the school district would continue to pay for the service.
In addition to overseeing the 511 tax collection, Fulkerson also was elected to collect property taxes, for which he earns about $29,000 annually, and with Social Security, that position costs his employers about $34,000.
McKinney worked as an administrative assistant in Monroeville for more than 20 years before being named interim manager last month.
Some question whether McKinney — who is not a certified public accountant — is qualified to collect 511 taxes.
“She's not qualified to answer anybody's questions,” Monroeville resident Robert Sarifini said at the Feb. 12 meeting.
Erosenko agreed that moving 511 tax collection out of the tax office would be a burden to the community.
“You'd have to go up to whoever the manager is and chase them down,” he said.
Erosenko said 511 tax collection was moved from the manager's office to the tax collector in 2001 because it was too much work for a manager. He said Feb. 12 that if council votes to move the 511 tax collection to the manager's office, he will veto it.
Council member Steve Duncan said he agrees the additional work would be too much for a manager.
“We feel the manager doesn't have enough on his or her plate?” Duncan asked. “That's why we have a (tax) office over there.”
McKinney said the employees in the tax office collecting 511 taxes would continue to do so and that her workload would not increase. She would, however, oversee the employees in the tax office who collect 511 taxes. She said it is not necessary to have a CPA oversee the department.
Fulkerson said McKinney is uninformed of his responsibilities as 511 tax collector.
“I do everything and I give out reports and it's done efficiently,” Fulkerson said. “Nobody griped about the money I brought in over the last five years.”
Fulkerson said McKinney lacks the experience of attending court hearings to collect delinquent taxes.
McKinney responded, “I think he sends his staff (to hearings).”
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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