Trappe Borough Council voted down a proposed tax collector compensation ordinance at its Feb. 5 meeting, opting to create a new proposal with an increased tax certification fee.
The reinstatement of a real estate tax prompted discussion about tax collector compensation at the January monthly meeting - at the center of the issue is how much Trappe will compensate their tax collector beginning Jan. 1 of next year.
While the reinstatement of the tax means an increase in costs for Gretchen Lawson, Trappe's current tax collector, the current compensation cannot be amended as per law.
Board president Fred Schuetz sent out a spreadsheet to council members showing tax payer compensation rates for surrounding municipalities. Some local governments pay a flat per parcel rate, while others pay based on a percentage of the tax received.
In addition, fees for tax certifications vary among municipalities. Schuetz raised concerns that Trappe’s current per parcel rate and that the fee for tax certifications are too low. He also expressed concern the current tax collector had not been included in emails and conversations about the compensation issue.
Council members Nevin Scholl, Marshall Stomel and Lewis DiPrete voted in favor of the proposed ordinance, which would raise the tax certification fee to $20 and keep the flat per parcel compensation rate at $2.50 (by comparison, the rate, according to the previous tax collector, was $3.10 per parcel in 2006 when Trappe last had a real estate tax). Council members Schuetz, Edwards and Johnson voted against the proposal. Councilwoman Liberi was absent due to illness.
Councilwoman Johnson said that she was comfortable with the flat fee, but thought that the tax certification fee should be raised to $25. Scholl, Stomel and DiPrete said that would be in favor of that. Solicitor Onorato will, with input from Council, put together a new proposal.
Since the tax collector compensation schedule is required by law to be set by Feb. 15, the new ordinance will be proposed, advertised and then voted on in a special public meeting to be held at 6:30 pm on February 15 at Borough Hall.