Sutersville, Smithton, West Newton tax bill mistake affects 2,064
Two bills from Berkheimer Tax Administrator puzzled Greg King when he picked up the mail.
One notice correctly billed the West Newton resident for Yough School District per capita taxes. A second notice incorrectly billed him for residential per capita taxes in Sewickley Township.
“I was just so concerned because my mother and my mother-in-law were confused,” he said. “I said, ‘That's not right, we live in West Newton borough.'”
King was one of 2,064 tax bill recipients in Sutersville, Smithton and West Newton that mistakenly received the township bill, said Shawn Perry, Berkheimer spokesman for Southwestern Pennsylvania.
He could not provide a total number, but said that was a “small percentage” of the total mailed throughout the school district.
The Allentown-based company collects school district taxes and per capita/occupational resident taxes for many of the municipalities in Westmoreland County after the Central Tax Bureau of Pennsylvania was shuttered in September.
Perry called the bills listing the incorrect municipality a transitional mistake.
“We're more or less cleaning up the lists we have from Centax,” he said, adding that the company had received about 45 calls about the problem.
The three boroughs border Sewickley Township, where tax collector Linda Harvey has fielded about 15 calls, even though local tax collectors handle only real estate taxes.
“They just didn't know who to call. I will help them as much as I can,” she said.
After Act 32 took effect in January 2012, each county chose a company for earned-income tax collection and distribution. Centax collected taxes for 12 counties, including Westmoreland, but fell behind processing payments.
Centax blamed delays on software problems and shut down Sept. 21.
To further complicate the billing problem, King would have normally received the 2012-13 school district bill in July. Those statements were just sent out last month because of Centax's snags, Perry said.
“After this round we just did, in July we'll send out the 2013-14 ones, we'll be back to normal,” he added.
Pam Humenik, West Newton borough secretary, had collected a half-dozen of the incorrect bills to send back to Burkheimer, including her own.
She said she understood the difficulty the new company might have, especially because many township residents have mailing addresses listing the borough.
“It was an error, and I'm not sticking up for Berkheimer, but they had a really big mess thrown in their laps,” Humenik said.
Perry said that originally the company would require anyone who had received the wrong bill to call the Youngwood office or mail back the bill marked with “non-resident.”
Now an apology letter will be mailed within the next week to those taxpayers, who do not have to take any further action, he said.
“If they actually paid for more than one municipality, they'd get a refund back as well,” Perry said.
No other municipalities have reported similar errors.
“This transition's actually been pretty darn good,” Perry said.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 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.
- Spirit Airlines lifts fortunes of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
- Land costs for New Stanton turnpike interchange project reach $4.2M
- 2 Hempfield Area students charged with sexting
- Hempfield man dies in single-vehicle accident
- Murrysville woman apologizes for scholarship fund theft
- $3.5M glass sculpture’s story begins, ends in rural community of Dunbar
- Donors’ generosity allows Clairview School girls to get fancy for prom
- Hempfield bicyclist who brought rock, knives into court office charged
- 2 Democrats battle for Hempfield nomination for supervisor
- 4 Democrats seek 3 nods for Latrobe council
- Hempfield to take over park