Board hires attorney to help in collecting delinquent taxes
UNIONTOWN – The Laurel Highlands school board voted Wednesday to approve a resolution to hire an attorney to help collect delinquent mercantile tax that may mean as much as $400,000 in revenue for the school district.
At Tuesday’s work session, solicitor Gary Frankhouser said delinquent mercantile tax is estimated at $800,000. The tax, which is to be shared between the district and the township in which the business is located, is assessed according to the manufacture or sale of goods.
The district has named Central Tax Bureau as its tax collector for mercantile tax.
Frankhouser said at a meeting on Oct. 10 regarding the collection of delinquent taxes, a proposal was made for the district to approve hiring the law offices of Ira Weiss with attorney Ira Weiss to serve as special counsel to work with Central Tax Bureau at a cost of $110 per hour to be billed monthly.
Frankhouser said legal fees could be added to the tax collection process, passing the cost onto the delinquent taxpayer.
Board president Edward George opposed the resolution. “It almost seems like double dipping. We have a tax collector and now we have to hire an attorney. You have to understand the type of tax. The mercantile tax is not very well accepted out there.”
The resolution passed with school directors Angelo Giachetti and Thomas Vernon passing on the vote and George voting no.
In other matters, the board granted permission to expand the Southern Allegheny Museums art program to include all of the district’s schools.
Superintendent Ronald Sheba said the project involves visits to the schools by an artist in residence and opportunities for instruction. There is no cost the first year. In the second and third years, the fee will be $1,500 per building per year. Sheba said the district is looking into additional funding to offset the costs.
Regarding building renovation and repairs, the board voted to award the contract for the removal of pipe insulation at the high school to ATI Air Technology Inc. at a cost of $12,870. The project is necessary because the insulation is exhibiting signs of mold.
The board also voted to upgrade the security monitoring system in the district, approved an additional cell phone for use by a high school administrator, and voted to replace five windows at Hatfield Elementary, using funds from the construction budget. The board also approved upgrading the pole vault area to meet new government regulations, with the track boosters organization supplying a portion of the cost.
The board voted to sell the portable classroom behind Marshall Elementary School for $11,000.
In other business, the board: