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Fayette officials OK raise for tax collectors

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Fayette County commissioners have granted tax collectors a pay raise that will take effect in 2014.

The 38 tax collectors will be paid $2.20 per bill next year, an increase of 15 cents per bill. The amount they collect for each per capita bill will remain the same at 5 cents.

Commissioners Al Ambrosini and Vincent Zapotosky voted in favor of the increase. Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink was opposed.

Marigrace Butela, tax collector for Dunbar Township and president of the Fayette County Tax Collectors Association, said the increase will cost the county about $9,000 per year.

She said the group sought a “minimal” increase because elected tax collectors pay their own rent and utilities, purchase their own supplies and do not have benefits such as health care.

“We know the hardships people are going through, with people losing their jobs, or on disability,” Butela said. “So we didn't want to ask for an increase we thought would be unfair.”

The group approached commissioners last week to ask for the increase. Zapotosky said it has been several years since the last increase for tax collectors.

“They do a very good job and costs have increased since the last time we had to approve this,” Zapotosky said. “I'm sure they want more, but right now, we're moving up the scale.”

In an unrelated matter, commissioners tabled a motion that would have entered the county into an agreement with GEO Group for a day reporting center for the jail.

Zapotosky said he wants new President Judge John F. Wagner Jr. to review the proposal and give the court's approval before the county proceeds.

Wagner was appointed in December because Judge Gerald R. Solomon, now a senior judge, retired.

Zimmerlink noted that the county still has to find a way to pay for the center. She said the $50,000 that is in the budget for the center would cover just one month.

“We can all be on board ... but if we don't allocate a funding stream, we can't sign on the dotted line,” Zimmerlink said.

The proposed center would offer eligible defendants an alternative to jail, Zapotosky said. It is expected to reduce overcrowding and will save the county rental fees for housing inmates in other counties. Rental fees for 2012 were about $700,000, he said.

In other matters:

• Commissioners approved promoting Gina D'Auria from acting director of Children and Youth Services to director. Commissioners set her salary at $63,589.

D'Auria will take over for Dave Madison, who retired last year.

• Commissioners made a number of appointments to boards and authorities. Most were by a 2-1 or 2-0 vote, with Zimmerlink dissenting or abstaining for reasons that included candidates' failure to submit letters of interest or to appear for interviews.

Among the appointees to boards was Ed Jeffreys to the planning commission for a four-year term ending in December 2016. Jeffreys is director of Fayette County Career and Technical Institute.

Reappointments included Harry Fike of Uniontown to the housing authority; Emilio “Chip” Ciarrochi of South Union to the planning commission; Fred Davis of Dunbar to the airport authority; and Robert Guerriere of Chalk Hill and Deborah Marella of Fairchance to the zoning hearing board.

Guerriere's reappointment is as a full-time board member, while Marella will continue to serve as an alternate.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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