AASD tax office to collect for Logan

The Altoona Area school board voted 5-4 to pass a tax collection agreement with Logan Township.

Under the three-year agreement that expires in 2016, the Altoona Area tax office will collect the township’s $5 flat rate occupation tax when it collects the district’s tax.

Instead of contracting with the newly formed Central Pennsylvania Tax Collection Bureau, the district continues to collect its own flat rate tax. Logan Township supervisors sought out the district last year to collect the township’s tax, too.

Newly installed board member John Donley voted for the agreement, saying there are no added costs of collecting the township’s tax. And ceasing to collect the tax for the township – and the district – would not ensure the district would be able to reduce tax office staff.

“We are not spending more on labor to collect the township’s taxes. And it would be a disservice to our taxpayers to have anyone else [the bureau] do this for the district.”

Opposition to the agreement was led by financial committee chairwoman Sharon Bream.

She said the only revenue generated by the agreement is from delinquent tax collections.

“It is disingenuous to taxpayers to collect this tax the way we are doing it,” Bream said.

She said there are labor costs to collecting the township’s taxes that are being overlooked. In addition, the district charges the township a commission less than the bureau’s rate. The 13 cents charged per bill does not cover the 31 cent cost to mail each tax notice, she said. Tax office administrators do not deny that.

Costs are covered by delinquent revenue. Proponents of the agreement said delinquencies are not hoped for, but inevitable.

“We are covering our costs and getting additional revenue – even though its not our intention – from the delinquencies. It’s just a fact of how people pay,” Donley said.

Maryann Joyce Bistline, Tim Lucas, John Klingeman, Donley and Ron Johnston voted the agreement through.

Bream, Judy Berryman, Dick Lockard and Cheryl Rupp voted against the agreement.

The delinquent revenue already collected has covered the approximate $12,000 cost of postage for tax notices, Assistant to the Superintendent for Business Kathy Hazenstab said.

She said the district has collected $17,000 in delinquent flat rate occupation tax revenue from last April to September. The district will continue to see more delinquent revenue collected from last year’s agreement with Logan Township, which will be collected through January, she said.

The board’s meeting on Monday night was the first for new board members elected in November – Klingeman, Donley and Berryman. Lockard, who was re-elected, was also sworn onto the board.

For the new year, incumbents Bistline and Lucas were selected as president and vice president respectively.

However, Bream, Berryman, Lockard and Rupp voted Rupp for president.

Outgoing board members were also present and recognized Monday. Former President Ryan Beers commended all of the new board members for taking responsibility for the district.

“It’s the last line of public service where no stipend is involved,” he said of the job.

Elizabeth Chapman added to Beers’ remarks.

“I met and worked with a lot of great people over the last four years.”

Former board member Skip Dry was not present at the meeting but offered a statement over the phone: “I wish the new board members well. I hope they have a successful four years.”

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.