Garbon faces Malone for Dem tax collector nod in Mt. Pleasant Township
In the nomination race for the position of tax collector Mt. Pleasant Township, Democrat Andrea Garbon, who was appointed to the post in February of 2012, faces challenger Laura Malone for the party's nomination in the May 21 primary, according to unofficial records of the Westmoreland County Election Bureau.
Republican challenger Mary A. Hontz is running unopposed for the GOP nomination in the primary, also according to unofficial bureau records.
Garbon is a lifelong resident of Norvelt and a 1990 Mt. Pleasant Area graduate.
She was appointed tax collector on Feb. 1, 2012, to fulfill the remainder of a four-year term vacated by Helen Schachte, the township's former tax collector. The term expires Dec. 31.
“I find the position to be interesting and I want to contribute to the community,” Garbon said. “I want it to be a friendly office that is helpful to taxpayers.”
In 2009, Garbon earned a Bachelor of Science in business and marketing, with a focus on accounting, from Seton Hill University in Greensburg.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to utilize that degree,” she said in reference to her current position.
Garbon previously was employed for 15 years in various production related positions at Latrobe Brewing Co.
For several years, she has also served for several years as assembly secretary an as a regional auditor for the fraternal National Slovak Society of the USA.
“I believe those skills also contribute and help to meet the needs of the office here,” she said.
When Garbon took over as township tax collector, the office was not computerized, she said.
“I've been implementing a new computer system that meets the needs of the tax office,” she said. “It's more efficient, it has better tracking ability, and it gets information to taxpayers more quickly, and to other parties involved, also.”
If elected, Garbon said she will continue in her efforts to further modernize the office to better meet the needs of the public.
Malone has been employed as secretary to the business manager at Mt. Pleasant Area School District since 2007.
In addition to overseeing payroll and health insurance benefits for district faculty and staff, along with addressing the pensions of retirees, Malone has for several years received reports from tax collectors throughout the district.
“I'm very good with numbers and I'm very confident,” said Malone, who added that she has obtained a secretarial degree from Bradford Business School and has taken courses through the mail in accounting by the Chicago Institute. “I'm very positive I can work with the school district as tax collector.”
She previously worked for 10 years as office manager at Hi-Lite Industries Inc. in Hempfield Industrial Park before the company closed in 2006.
If elected, Malone said taxpayers can expect her to be organized and responsive to any of their concerns.
“I'll be very accessible to them any time,” she said, adding that she would also work to upgrade the office's technological capabilities. “I'll have an answering machine, and phone calls will be returned within a day.”
Malone added that she would establish evening and Saturday hours, particularly as she gets started in the post.
She said she would also make it her mission to work with the district to make sure the district receives tax dollars in a more timely manner.
“With my background, I think I would be better suited for that, seeing it from this end and wanting to learn more about it,” Malone said.
She also said she is cognizant of the fact that, if elected, her current job responsibilities would have to be altered to avoid any conflicts of interest.
“There are some things at the district that would have to change if I did indeed win,” Malone said. “I'll know May 21 if I'm going to be on ballot in November.”
• Hontz, a township resident since 1985, is a member of the township's board of auditors, a position she obtained via write-in campaign.
She has 31 years employment experience in both commercial and residential mortgages for a major Pittsburgh bank.
“The last 11 years, I have traveled every day to Pittsburgh or the Butler exit of (Pennsylvania) Turnpike; dealing with commercial, residential mortgages, taxes and escrows, so I thought I would be a natural fit,” said Hontz, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration/management from the University of Pittsburgh.
As a township auditor, she and her board colleagues took steps this year to realign the vacation time of the township supervisors to sync with that of their employees.
“It gave supervisors the ability to be on the job with their crews more often, which helps the community,” Hontz said.
Last year, Hontz worked with the board to bring the amount paid by supervisors for health insurance coverage more in line with their workers, she said.
“So when they asked their workers to pay a little more, they were already doing that,” she said.
If elected, Hontz said she would bring a new and improved brand of customer service.
“My computer skills are excellent, and my experience and knowledge would make me a fit,” she said.
Though she is running unopposed, Hontz encouraged voters to write her in on the Democratic ticket, as well.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.