After spat with supervisors, Newberry Twp. tax collector won't seek reelection

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
The Newberry Township Municipal complex Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

Debra Popp, the longtime tax collector for Newberry Township, said Tuesday she won't seek reelection after a turbulent year of disputes with the board of supervisors.

Popp, who has been the tax collector for 26 years, said it was a tough decision but that it just wasn't worth it anymore.

"For multiple reasons, it was the best decision for me," she said.

In December, the Newberry Township Board of Supervisors voted to quadruple the tax collector's rent for office space at the township's administrative building from $200 a month to $800 a month and to prohibit the tax collector from participating in the township's health insurance plan, beginning in the next term.

The board later tried to move Popp's office to the sewer authority building effective Feb. 1, citing the need for more space at the township building, but Popp hired an attorney and successfully argued that her office couldn't be moved in middle of her term, which ends after 2021.

Popp said the trouble started after she questioned the prudence of a proposed mercantile license fee exemption last year that would have benefited a sitting supervisor, and after she submitted a Right to Know request for a copy of an audit report commissioned by the township.

Popp claimed the supervisors' desire to move her office to the sewer building wasn't about lack of space and that it was actually retaliation for asking too many questions.

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The supervisors have denied this and said they're running out of storage space, but in a December meeting, Supervisor Maxine Kauffman accused Popp of being a mole for a local Facebook page that's highly critical of township officials.

And emails obtained by The York Dispatch showed the supervisors and township manager Tony Miller discussing the need to get Popp out of her "snooping office location" in the township building, stating that "she needs an exit."

Popp has denied any involvement with the Facebook page.

"I’m sure they’re getting a big laugh out of it, figuring they got what they wanted, they got me out," Popp said. "But it is what it is."

Popp became emotional when she mentioned the residents she's gotten to know over the years. She said she'll miss working with them and that she has appreciated their support in recent months.

The 2021 municipal primary is scheduled for May 18.

As of Tuesday, only one person — Sheila Rehbein Eisele — had filed a petition with the York County Department of Elections and Voter Registration to appear on the ballot for tax collector in Newberry Township.

Eisele could not be reached for comment.

More:Newberry Twp. board banishes tax collector to sewer complex

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