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York County's tax collectors are in line next year to receive what commissioners called an "incentive-based raise," but they're suing the county to make sure that doesn't happen.

The county commissioners passed the ordinance for the change in payment in February in response to the York County Tax Collectors Association's request for a raise.

Currently, the county pays tax collectors 75 cents per bill sent and $2.14 per payment collected for a total of $2.89 per bill collected.

Under the ordinance, the compensation would be 6 cents per bill sent — the amount York Mail Service would charge for the service — and $1.15 per payment collected, while adding $1.45 per payment remitted to the county on time and a handful of other potential incentives.

While fulfilling all the incentives would add up to a 47-cent-per-bill raise, the tax collectors association argued that the changes — which reduced their base pay — amounted more to a penalty system.

Association president Lee Hoffheins, who filed the lawsuit, said the new system is unfair because not all of the tax collectors could receive all of the incentives.

One main point of contention is the 10-cents-per-bill incentive to use the county's tax collection software.

Hoffheins said about half of his association's 61 members collect for municipalities that require per capita data, which the county's system does not allow and which would disqualify them from receiving that compensation.

A per capita tax is applied to all adult residents in a municipality, as opposed to just those required to pay property taxes, and county Treasurer Barbara Bair said the system is not capable of accepting that information.

The county had originally proposed a 15-cents-per-bill incentive to use the county's software, but after hearing complaints from the association, the commissioners amended the ordinance to add that 15 cents onto the per payment collected on time, bringing it from $1.30 to $1.45 each, and still offering 10 cents per bill submitted using the county-provided software.

"An incentive system has to be equitable to everybody participating, and this is not," Hoffheins said.

Hoffheins added that he doesn't know of any members in his association who are against the lawsuit, though he does have one member he knows isn't necessarily supportive.

The lawsuit contends that the new compensation rate is unreasonable and argues that the county should revert to its current compensation system, offering $2.89 per bill collected.

County spokesman Mark Walters said the county does not comment on pending legal matters.

Commissioner Chris Reilly, following passage of the ordinance, said that, after raising the county tax rate for two consecutive years, he wanted to make sure any raises given to collectors increased efficiency and didn't cost taxpayers.

County administrator Mark Derr said most collectors submit their information to the county in an accurate and timely manner, but there have been some collectors who have caused issues.

Bair said her office spends an "exorbitant" amount of time dealing with issues caused by collectors not doing their jobs correctly. The extra work costs taxpayers in the form of overtime costs, she said, and the incentive program would aim to reduce that extra work by encouraging collectors to submit information electronically.

Kathy Emswiler, a tax collector for East Manchester Township for 25 years, said no other taxing authority — collectors also receive payment from municipalities and school districts — makes stipulations when granting raises.

"Never before have I felt so unappreciated and insulted than by this proposal," she said.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.

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