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Hempfield still seeking records from ex-tax collector

| Sunday, May 13, 2012, 6:06 p.m.

Hempfield Township still is waiting for its former tax collector to turn over tax records from prior years.

When she left office at the beginning of the year, Susan Creighton took with her the records for 2000 and 2001. The absent records have made it difficult for the current tax collector, Jim Regola, to answer some taxpayers' questions.

The township went to court to have Creighton turn over the records, and a tentative agreement was reached.

Once Creighton signs the agreement, the township will have 30 days to audit the tax records. After the audit is complete, Creighton is to allow the township to take possession of the books, and she will be provided with copies of the records.

The tentative agreement was reached some three weeks ago, but Hempfield Solicitor Les Mlakar told supervisors yesterday that he has received no notification that Creighton has signed the order.

Contacted by phone after the meeting, Creighton said she went to her attorney's office yesterday and signed the agreement. She said the township should receive notification today from her attorney.

She said she was unable to set up a meeting earlier with her attorney, Gary Falatovich of Greensburg.

"My attorney and I were playing cat and mouse for a week and a half," Creighton said. "I just stopped today and signed the papers."

Creighton said she kept the tax records because she is legally responsible for them until the audit is performed.

In an unrelated matter, Rob Ritson, manager, said a bird found dead in the township has tested positive for West Nile virus, a potentially deadly infection spread by mosquitoes.

Paul Reed, supervisor, said road crews have been directed to ensure drains are free-flowing so that stagnant water does not provide breeding ground for mosquitoes. He also said workers continue to collect discarded tires for disposal.

Ritson said code enforcement officers will be advised to identify problem areas, as well.

Supervisor Kim Ward advised residents to call the township to report areas containing stagnant water so that the ordinance department can investigate. She said the township has already received a number of calls from concerned residents.

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