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Tax collector referendum to appear on ballot

| Monday, April 2, 2001

Murrysville officials have missed the deadline to place a referendum on the spring primary asking residents to decide whether to switch from an elected tax collector to an appointed position.

For the referendum to be included on the ballot for the May 15 primary, it had to be filed with Westmoreland County officials 13 weeks before the election. Instead, the measure will go to the voters in the November general election.

Discussions about whether to amend Murrysville's 1976 home rule charter to eliminate the elected tax collector's post began in earnest after the announcement earlier this year that current Tax Collector Carolyn Krudwig would not be seeking re-election. Her term expires Dec. 31.

During a meeting March 7, council voted unanimously to approve the amendment to the municipality's Home Rule Charter that would terminate the elected position.

Members of council are worried that if the tax collector remains an elected position, it might be filled by someone who is not experienced enough to handle the job of collecting the more than $30 million in taxes that are taken in by that office.

The only requirement to run for the office is that the candidate be a resident of the municipality for at least one year.

Krudwig has recommended abolishing the position as has her predecessor, Anna Lasher. Lasher was the third member of the Wohlin family to serve as the tax collector for Murrysville.

Lasher's father, Fred Wohlin, retired from the position in 1974. His daughter, Calla Sabol, took over upon her father's retirement. After Sabol left the post, her sister, Anna Lasher stepped in. Lasher continues to work for Krudwig.

If voters decide to eliminate the elected position, officials would have to decide whether to create a paid position to handle the job or hire an outside agency to collect taxes.

Council President Joan Kerns said officials are leaning toward making it an appointed position.

Under the terms of the amendment approved at the March 7 meeting, a municipal office dubbed the Department of Tax Collection would handle the task. The director of that department would be appointed by the mayor, with the advice and consent of council.

Should Krudwig choose to resign before her term expires, the municipality could hire a professional to serve until the next election, or the solicitor could take over the position by ordinance.

Krudwig has said she will fulfill her term, unless it is determined a resignation is in the best interests of the municipality.

The borough and the Franklin Regional School District currently pay the tax collector $1.85 per tax bill processed.

The gross income for the office last year was about $84,500 with a net income of about $46,000.

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