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Deputy tax collector appointed

An Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judge has appointed a deputy tax collector and treasurer for South Fayette Township, while the elected tax collector tries to secure a bond for his work.

Kevin Biber, owner of Greentree Investment Services and a lifelong resident of South Fayette, will serve as the deputy tax collector and treasurer until Steven J. Dobis II secures a bond.

Common Pleas Judge Joseph James issued the decision Wednesday, two days after township officials petitioned the court to appoint a deputy.

Biber will not be allowed to take office until he secures a bond. The process for Biber to be bonded has already begun, said township solicitor Jonathan Kamin.

Under the state's township code, tax collectors must provide a bond to secure the respective taxing districts against any losses of tax funds.

The bond ensures that in the event of the theft or loss of money, the township would not lose any funds. Generally, officials handling money for a township must be bonded for the amount of money to which they have access. In this case, the amount of the bond is set at $3.7 million.

Dobis was sworn in as the tax collector in January. In mid-February, both the commission and the school board wrote to Dobis demanding that he stop collecting taxes until he provided proof of a bond.

Both bodies gave Dobis until March 1 to provide proof of a bond. When he did not, township commissioners conducted an emergency meeting on Monday to approve the court petition.

Kamin said the township gave Dobis every opportunity to secure a bond.

"I don't think the township was shirking its duty. It was trying to cooperate with the newly elected tax collector," Kamin said. "That shows more to how much our guys wanted to work with him, to give him time to get his act together, but we're at a point where we couldn't wait anymore."

Jack Luke, the attorney representing Dobis, said he doesn't believe the township did enough.

"We tried to meet with the township, and we did meet with them a number of times," he said. "They were just not receptive to anything, so we're doing our own thing now."

Luke said they are considering appealing the court order, because they had their own candidate for appointment, and that candidate was not selected. Luke would not reveal the identity of that candidate.

South Fayette's elected treasurer/tax collector is responsible for collecting real estate taxes for the township and school district and for accounting of all revenues collected by the township.

The position pays $34,000 a year, $10,000 from the township and $24,000 from the school district.

Kamin said the township received property tax information from the county on March 1.

"Our bills have to go out very shortly," he said. "We waited as long as we could (for Dobis.)"

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