Audit finds problems in Mt. Pleasant Township tax records
A routine audit of the Mt. Pleasant Township tax collector's records revealed serious bookkeeping deficiencies leading to more than $13,000 in local taxpayers' money never being forwarded to Westmoreland County, according the county's report.
Tax collector Andrea Garbon owed $13,310 to Westmoreland County in real estate taxes, according to a county audit completed last week. She has since paid the money from her office account, according to county Controller Jeffrey Balzer.
When contacted this week, Garbon attributed the problems to a “computer error” and said software upgrades should prevent similar issues in the future.
“Ongoing improvements are being made,” said Garbon, paid $50,157 a year by the county, township and school district to collect taxes. “In the long run, they're (the upgrades) going to benefit all parties involved as we work together to move into the future.”
Township supervisors appointed Garbon, 41, to the post in February 2012 to fill the remainder of a four-year term vacated by Helen Schachte. Garbon, a Democrat, will face Republican Mary Hontz, 51, in Tuesday's general election.
“I don't believe that we thought she was doing anything illegal, as much as she was struggling to do her job,” said Balzer, adding that it was the largest amount of tax money at issue in such an audit since he took office in January 2012.
Calling it an “unfortunate finding,” Balzer said that in his experience, such bookkeeping issues are not common with tax collectors.
The audit of Garbon's office found she:
• Did not comply with state law by maintaining up-to-date records of what taxes had been paid.
• Could not provide duplicate copies of tax receipts to the public and others indicating that taxes on specific parcels were paid or unpaid.
• Did not send in taxes to the county every third business day in compliance with a county resolution.
• Could not provide auditors with copies of receipts, ledgers, check registers or bank statements.
• Did not have a log of overpayments and refunds.
In addition, the audit showed taxes had been paid on six parcels, but were marked unpaid in Garbon's books.
Garbon is responsible for collecting $1.9 million in taxes on 6,177 parcels of land for the county, according to the controller's office.
While some of the 128 municipalities in Westmoreland County use professional tax services, most use citizens elected to tax collector positions.
Township solicitor Leslie Mlakar said he had not read the audit and would not comment on it.
The school district and township have not conducted audits. Mt. Pleasant School District officials indicated no audit was planned.
“To our knowledge at this time, there have been no financial irregularities noted in our examination of monthly reports or independent audits of tax collectors,” according to a written statement issued by the district.
Kate Wilcox is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 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 puts Chicago on its flight path
- 11 Ligonier Township residents rescued by boat from floodwaters
- Westmoreland historical society holding antiques appraisal
- Harsh February leaves Westmoreland communities short on road salt
- West Newton ponders adding to emergency call list
- Restitution payments top record in Westmoreland County
- Unity planners OK proposal for Route 30 retail development
- Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum to kick off Speaker Series with stories of Jeannette
- North Huntingdon man accused of road rage altercation in Westmoreland
- Hempfield man to plead guilty to posing as policeman
- Charleroi woman charged in home invasion pleads, is released