Several local tax collectors were in attendance at the Perkiomen Valley School Board Meeting on Jan. 14 to ask the school board not to cut their compensation when voting on the motion that sets tax collector fees for the next four years.
Currently, tax collectors from the six Perkiomen Valley municipalities are compensated $3.12 for each real estate bill issued in each Perkiomen Valley township, and $3.12 for each per capita tax bill issued.
A per capita tax, also known as a “nuisance” tax, is a $15 assessed on all residents, 18 years or older. Active military, full time students, and disabled residents are exept.
A motion to set the tax collector compensation for 2013 through 2017 was on the agenda, and included a reduction in the tax collectors’ per capita tax compensation to $2.12 in an attempt to help close the $6 million shortfall the budget faces for the 2013-2014 school year.
One of the district’s arguments for the reduction was that the occupational assessment tax (OAT) is no longer part of the per capita tax bill, thus lessening the workload for tax collectors.
The removal of the OAT tax from the per capita bill also eliminated the need for tax collectors to provide payment installments to homeowners – a reduction in workload, per the administration.
Lower Frederick Tax Collector Josh Embree, who spoke on behalf of the five in attendance, said that the tax collectors did not deserve a cut in their compensation.
Embree argued that recent removal of the OAT from the per capita tax has not significantly decreased his workload, and that customer service needs have increased as a result.
An additional tax collector argument was that they are are now obligated to offer payment installments for real estate taxes to all residents, which creates extra work for the office and negates the supposed workload reduction from the OAT installment elimination.
PVSD School Board Vice President Lynn Bigelow’s response to this issue was to eliminate the tax, which brings in a net sum of $144,000 for the school district.
“I need to give the taxpayers a break here,” Bigelow said, citing a positive audit report and recent refinance in the district as reasons for the tax cut.
School Board Director Ann Mantey took issue with the notion of a tax cut when the school board is working to fill the current shortfall for next year’s budget.
“There are things on the 'what are we going to cut list' much less than the $144,000 that we lose,” Mantey said.
Embree, along with Schwenksville Tax Collector Wendi Rowley, did not oppose eliminating the tax.
“I’m a taxpayer,” Embree said. “I'm in favor of you getting rid of the tax bill over cutting our pay.”
School Board Director Randy Benentt, who recalled a PVSD Finance Committee conversation in which members thought that real estate tax payment plan would increase the workload of tax collectors, said an increase in compensation should possibly be considered.
The board passed a motion to table the discussion until next month, when more information can be gathered on the workload of the tax payment plan.