Experienced politicians face off in Plum tax collector race
By Karen Zapf
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Both candidates for Plum tax collector have experience in politics.
The race pits 13-year incumbent Harry Schlegel, a Republican and former councilman, against challenger Jeff Russo, a Democrat who has served on both borough council and the Plum School Board.
The general election is Nov. 5.
Schlegel, 67, said he decided to seek another four-year term because he enjoys helping people, particularly those who face hardships in paying taxes.
“We discuss it (the situation) around the coffee table in my office,” said Schlegel, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
The borough tax collector is responsible for collecting borough and school district real estate taxes.
The salary and compensation for preparing and mailing tax statements is about $100,000.
Schlegel points to a couple of initiatives he spearheaded over the past decade to help taxpayers including a waiver of a penalty for taxes paid late if the situation is not the taxpayer's fault.
Schlegel said at times tax bills are sent to the wrong address particularly if a taxpayer has paid off the mortgage and taxes previously were paid through the mortgage company.
“The county doesn't update its records quickly,” Schlegel said.
Schlegel also successfully convinced borough council and the school board to institute a payment plan for taxpayers who have a difficult time paying in a lump sum.
Schlegel said the office had 50 payment plans five years ago. Today, Schlegel coordinates 800 payment plans.
Russo, 49, unsuccessfully sought the tax collector post several years ago.
Russo said his 26-year career helping clients with financial planning would lend well to the position.
“Taxes are a part of someone's expenses,” said Russo, a financial sales consultant.
Russo said if elected, he would decide if he would be a part-time or full-time tax collector.
“I would make sure the office is always staffed,” Russo said.
Russo, a former councilman and school board member, also said he can work well with members of both parties.
“We may not always agree on issues, but we can agree to disagree,” Russo said.
Russo also said he would be open to instituting improvements to the operation of the office if the changes would help taxpayers.
Russo also would be agreeable to the tax office being moved from the Plum Borough Municipal Authority building to the borough offices.
Both buildings are in the municipal complex.
Council members have been considering moving the office to save the $350 a month rent the borough pays to the municipal authority.
Schlegel would like the office to remain in the municipal authority building because he thinks the space is needed to accommodate taxpayers who pay their bills in person.
Councilman Michael Dell said the office space issue is a topic of the 2014 budget discussions.
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Colella looks forward to role as Plum school board president
- Plum High School earns national accolades for AP course program
- Holiday Park Elementary groundbreaking soggy, optimistic
- Taxes hold steady, surplus reported in Plum budget
- Holiday season can be difficult for those dealing with illness, loss in family
- Plum Community center makes name change to appeal to all ages