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Board hires attorney to help in collecting delinquent taxes

| Thursday, Oct. 17, 2002

UNIONTOWN - The Laurel Highlands school board voted Wednesday to approve a resolution to hire an attorney to help collect delinquent mercantile tax that may mean as much as $400,000 in revenue for the school district.

At Tuesday's work session, solicitor Gary Frankhouser said delinquent mercantile tax is estimated at $800,000. The tax, which is to be shared between the district and the township in which the business is located, is assessed according to the manufacture or sale of goods.

The district has named Central Tax Bureau as its tax collector for mercantile tax.

Frankhouser said at a meeting on Oct. 10 regarding the collection of delinquent taxes, a proposal was made for the district to approve hiring the law offices of Ira Weiss with attorney Ira Weiss to serve as special counsel to work with Central Tax Bureau at a cost of $110 per hour to be billed monthly.

Frankhouser said legal fees could be added to the tax collection process, passing the cost onto the delinquent taxpayer.

Board president Edward George opposed the resolution. "It almost seems like double dipping. We have a tax collector and now we have to hire an attorney. You have to understand the type of tax. The mercantile tax is not very well accepted out there."

The resolution passed with school directors Angelo Giachetti and Thomas Vernon passing on the vote and George voting no.

In other matters, the board granted permission to expand the Southern Allegheny Museums art program to include all of the district's schools.

Superintendent Ronald Sheba said the project involves visits to the schools by an artist in residence and opportunities for instruction. There is no cost the first year. In the second and third years, the fee will be $1,500 per building per year. Sheba said the district is looking into additional funding to offset the costs.

Regarding building renovation and repairs, the board voted to award the contract for the removal of pipe insulation at the high school to ATI Air Technology Inc. at a cost of $12,870. The project is necessary because the insulation is exhibiting signs of mold.

The board also voted to upgrade the security monitoring system in the district, approved an additional cell phone for use by a high school administrator, and voted to replace five windows at Hatfield Elementary, using funds from the construction budget. The board also approved upgrading the pole vault area to meet new government regulations, with the track boosters organization supplying a portion of the cost.

The board voted to sell the portable classroom behind Marshall Elementary School for $11,000.

In other business, the board:

  • Announced that names are still being accepted for action teams for the district's strategic plan. Those interested should contact Sheba or the administration office. The next strategic plan steering committee meeting will be held on Oct. 23.

  • Announced that the district received transition mini grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Education Bureau of Special Education for its programs in the amounts of $5,125.80 for self-advocacy, $5,000 for social skills in the workplace, and $7,500 for reading.

  • Informed the district that the first reading on proposed policy for students taking post secondary credit that would count toward graduation when extenuating circumstances occur is available for public review at the central office.

  • Stated Paul Petrone and Carol Del Pinto will lead the SAT preparation course, Joseph Sarko will coordinate senior projects, Maggie Watson will sponsor the Hutchinson yearbook, Jackie Hixson will sponsor the Kennedy newspaper.

  • Listed successful bidders for custodial positions: William Golden, Marshall Elementary School, effective Sept. 23; Robert Scott, Hutchinson Elementary, effective Oct. 1; and Fred Bodkin, the senior high school, effective Oct. 9.

  • Accepted the resignation of Mario Maniconi, junior high custodian of 33 years and accepted the resignation of seventh and eighth grade boys' basketball coach Donald Santore Jr.

  • Appointed Robert Hogan as new seventh and eighth grade boys' basketball coach.

  • Voted to post a position to collect data and submit billing for Access Funds and a position for teacher/literacy coordinator/trainer.

  • Adopted a resolution to enter into a five year agreement with other member school districts in Fayette County to request that Intermediate Unit I operate an alternative school.

  • Approved student teacher Trisha Maddas from Robert Morris College in Business Education for the spring semester at the senior high school with supervising teacher Robert Costello.

  • Approved the band boosters organization request to hold a "cow patty bingo" fundraiser in the spring.

  • Approved Garrett Breakiron's request for the elementary wrestling club to attend a wrestling tournament in Norfolk, Va. in December.

  • Set meeting dates: 5 p.m. work session and regular meeting at 7 pm. on Nov. 12; a 5 p.m. work session on Nov. 20 with a special meeting to be scheduled if necessary; a 5 p.m. work session at 5 p.m. on Dec. 3 and a reorganization meeting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 4 followed by a regular meeting.

  • Announced parent-teacher conferences are scheduled for Nov. 13-15, National Education Week is Nov. 17-23 and Red Ribbon Week is Oct. 28 to Nov. 1.

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