York County tax collectors want a pay raise in 2021

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

York County's tax collectors association is looking for a pay raise from the Board of Commissioners, claiming the county hasn't adjusted for cost of living increases in its compensation calculations.

Lee Hoffheins, tax collector for Glen Rock and president of the York County Tax Collectors Association, attended a county commissioners' meeting Wednesday and asked the board to appoint a representative to meet with the association.

"We’re 40% behind where we should be if we would have just gotten raises that are parallel to CPI," Hoffheins said in an interview Thursday, referring to the consumer price index of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Hoffheins also claimed the county cut compensation for tax collectors in recent years, prompting him to file a lawsuit against the county in 2017 on behalf of the association.

But York County Administrator Mark Derr said Friday it wasn't true the county cut tax collectors' pay, and that the county actually increased total compensation during its last adjustment.

Mark Derr, York County administrator, at the York County Administrative Center Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. Bill Kalina photo

In 2017, the then-Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance to adjust the pay structure for tax collectors, which is what prompted the lawsuit.

The stated purpose of the change was to give the tax collectors a raise while incentivizing best practices, such as electronic record keeping and remitting the payments to the county on time.

"We’ve got a lot of good tax collectors, but we had some problem children, and we did this to try to address the problems," Derr said.

One of the central complaints in Hoffheins' lawsuit was that the county cut the tax collectors' compensation for mailing the bills.

Previously, the tax collectors could earn 75 cents for each tax bill they mailed, but the county ended up saving about $127,500 per year by contracting with a third-party mailing service instead, Derr said.

To make up for that loss, the county added extra payment for other tasks.

Under the updated structure, the county's base rate for tax collectors is $2.70 per tax bill collected and remitted, on time, to the county, but collectors can earn more — up to $3.36 per bill — if they complete a few extra steps in the process.

Tax collectors who send the county an electronic record of their collections, as opposed to a hard copy, earn an extra 20 cents per bill.

And those who provide the county with an electronic listing of delinquent properties requiring a tax lien earn another 40 cents per bill.

York County celebrates its 270th birthday by lighting the domes on top of the York County Administrative Center, Monday, August 19, 2019. The lighting of the domes concluded a day of tours of the center and the ringing of the bells. John A. Pavoncello photo

Having the records sent in digital format is more efficient for the county officials who have to add the information into the county's record- keeping system, Derr said.

"Ninety percent of them were already doing that," he said, stating the updated pay structure would compensate them for that effort.

Tax collectors who prefer to send the bills themselves can still collect an extra 6 cents per bill.

Hoffheins told the county commissioners Wednesday he believes "there's a better way" to resolve the association's complaints than through the courts, and he requested a meeting with them.

York County Commissioner Julie Wheeler said Friday the county board would be willing to take a closer look at the payment structure for tax collectors in the new year.

The York County Tax Collectors Association has 55 members who collect taxes in 63 municipalities, Hoffheins said. The association is voluntary, and there are a handful of tax collectors who are not members, he said.

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