Garbon faces Hontz for Mt. Pleasant tax collector position
In the 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 Mary Hontz, a Republican, in the Nov. 5 general election, according to unofficial records of the Westmoreland County Election Bureau.
Garbon, who bested Laura Malone for the Democratic nomination in the May 21 primary, is a lifelong resident of Norvelt and a 1990 Mt. Pleasant Area graduate.
A Pennsylvania state-certified tax collector, he was appointed township 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.
Garbon previously was employed for 15 years in various production related positions at Latrobe Brewing Co.
For several years, she has also served as both assembly secretary and 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.
Hontz, a township resident since 1985, who ran unopposed for the GOP nomination in the May 21 primary, 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, taxes and escrows for a major Pittsburgh bank.
“I know what is expected of the tax collector from the bank's side since I work with them on a daily basis, 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.
Hontz said she would bring a new and improved brand of customer service to the post.
“My computer skills are excellent, and my experience and knowledge would make me a fit,” she said.
Though she is a registered Republican, Hontz encouraged voters to consider more than her party affilation when deciding if she would be the best choice.
“I know that the community is a very Democratic community, and I'm a Republican. I just hope voters will vote the right person, and not just the party,” Hontz said. “I don't feel tax collector is so much politically motivated, it's about doing the right thing for the community, paying the taxes and collecting them on time. I'm dealing with the every day person, so whether I'm a Democrat or a Republican shouldn't make a difference.”
If elected, Hontz would like to expand office hours, particularly during the discount periods in the spring and fall, she said.
“If you're working for the community, your customers are the most important thing,” Hontz said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.