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Uniontown school board agrees to settle with auto dealership

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Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A proposal to settle a mercantile-tax dispute between the Uniontown Area School District and an auto dealer could put $100,000 into the district's coffers.

The school board on Monday agreed to the settlement proposal with Autoland Hyundai and its owner, Christopher Parker.

The money is for unpaid mercantile taxes the district claims it's owed.

The plan stipulates that both sides discontinue litigation.

Parker did not return a call seeking comment. His attorney, Simon John of Uniontown, declined comment. Sam Davis, solicitor for the school board, did not return calls seeking comment.

According to court documents, the district has attempted to collect the money since 1996. It claims the auto dealer failed to pay a 1.5 percent mercantile tax from 1996 through 2012.

The mercantile tax was adopted by the district in 1970, the documents show.

The case has been in civil court since 1997, when Parker appealed a tax-hearing officer's finding that he owed the tax.

Parker had argued during the hearing that the tax was unfair and unconstitutional.

According to a transcript of the hearing, Parker argued that the tax was unfair because his profit margin on sales are less than that of other retailers. He noted that while he might make a $500 profit on a $19,500 automobile, other retailers with a 100 percent markup would make $10,000 on a $20,000 sale.

The board agreed to the settlement proposal as the case was about to go to trial, according to court records.

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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