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Wage tax office awaits funds from Plum

| Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2003

Plum's wage tax office has won half its battle to stay open for another year.

Borough council, which splits the cost of the office with the school district, is expected to consider its half of the proposed $208,857 budget Monday. The office is included in the borough's preliminary budget for 2004. The school board previously approved its share of the 2004 budget.

The budget proposal includes a $12,118 increase over the $196,739 current budget for the office. Contained in the budget are salaries, benefits and rent for the office, across the parking lot from the borough building.

Plum School Board member Jeff Matthews said yesterday that he voted in favor of the budget despite his concern about rising health care costs.

"Hospitalization costs have increased 64 percent," Matthews said. Municipal employees do not contribute to their health insurance.

The tax office has three full-time employees. Within the past year, the office downsized by cutting two part-time positions.

Both the school board and council previously have discussed closing the office and subcontracting the work to an outside firm. A contract reached in November 2002 with the borough's clerical employees, including workers in the earned income tax office, states the office would be retained until Plum School District notifies the borough of its intent to subcontract the service.

"We want to keep the office here," said Jeanne Pedrosky, tax office administrator. "We care about the people of Plum. Too many things are shipped out. It is important to us to serve the people of Plum."

As a testament to the office's success, Pedrosky said earned income tax collections continue to rise, from about $4.4 million in 1999, to $5 million in 2000, $5.1 million in 2001 and $5.2 million in 2002. Pedrosky said this year's collections totaled $4.5 million through October.

Pedrosky said collections on delinquent tax bills totaled $840,000 in 2002 and $740,000 for the first 10 months of this year.

"We've had to step up a notch," Pedrosky said. "We've dealt with it."

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