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Tax collectors ask York County for pay hike
York County tax collectors are asking the county for their first raise in nearly 20 years.
Lee Hoffheins, who is the elected tax collector in Glen Rock and president of the York County Tax Collectors Association, told commissioners at their weekly meeting Wednesday that he and his fellow collectors have seen their pay from the county remain stagnant since 1998.
When inflation is factored in, he said tax collectors are faring worse now compared to then.
"We make less than we did in 1998," said Hoffheins during an interview after the meeting.
Hoffheins told commissioners that the consumer price index has risen 47 percent since then and asked for raises starting in 2018, when most tax collectors take office. All tax collectors, except the York City treasurer, who is the city's tax collector, will appear on the ballot in 2017.
The commissioners asked Hoffheins to come back with a plan detailing a realistic pay increase request.
Pay: The county's 62 tax collectors work on what is essentially a commission, receiving a small portion of every bill that's paid. Apart from county taxes, they also collect taxes for the municipality and school district in which they were elected.
Hoffheins, who is retired and sees tax collecting as a part-time job to supplement his income, said he'll make just under $2,400 collecting county taxes this year. He receives additional pay for collecting taxes for Glen Rock and Southern York County School District.
The county budgeted to spend $683,000, which includes pay and other expenses, to support its tax collector program in 2016. For the same year, the county projects to collect $135 million in real estate taxes, according to budget documents.
Tax collectors do more than just collect taxes. For instance, Hoffheins said he fields taxpayers' questions and provides other assistance, such as printing out prior years' real estate tax bills for income tax purposes, for taxpayers.
The process for collecting taxes has become streamlined and made easier over the years. Software the county uses, which can also be used by the tax collectors, saves time, and most tax payments are tied to mortgages, Carl Lindquist, the county spokesman, noted.
Increase: Tax collectors last petitioned the commissioners for a raise in 2008, asking for an 18 percent increase, but that request was denied.
"You have no other employee in the county that's making less than what they did in 1998," Hoffheins told commissioners.
But with county dollars already stretched thin, a large pay increase may be a tough thing to pull off.
"You can only stretch a dollar so far," Susan Byrnes, the president commissioner, said. "It's not that we don't appreciate" what tax collectors do.
Any action to increase tax collectors' pay would have to happen by the middle of February so the pay is set ahead of the primary, during which all tax collector posts will be all the ballot.
"I would support a very modest increase," said Commissioner Chris Reilly in a phone interview. He added he envisions an increase of 1 or 2 percent, akin to what the county's non-bargaining employees receive yearly.