Committee votes to replace CENTAX

JOHNSONBURG - The Elk County Tax Collection Committee voted Thursday to approve a resolution effectively ending the county's contract with the Central Tax Bureau (CENTAX) tax collection agency as of the end of the second fiscal quarter. The announcement comes following ongoing difficulties with CENTAX, including payments and returns unaccounted for and the company failing to distribute collected earned income tax (EIT) monies to local municipalities and school districts. CENTAX was appointed as EIT collector for Elk County following the state's passage of the Act 32 legislation limiting counties to one EIT collector each. The legislation also required the formation of county tax collection committees (TCCs). Elk County Tax Collection Committee Chairman Brent Rhoads said that CENTAX was several thousand dollars shy of what it owed to Elk Co. municipalities and school districts. Other complaints fielded by the committee included the status of payments, with employers concerned that checks, some submitted to CENTAX over six months ago, have yet to be processed by CENTAX. The committee had sent correspondence to CENTAX threatening termination of the contract if the company failed to correct the problems and received no initial response. In a July 9 meeting, the committee cited CENTAX's breach of provisions in the contract, including the company's failure to make timely payments and submit monthly written reports, in support of the committee's right to terminate the contract. The committee proceeded to put out a formal request for bids from three tax collectors eyed as possible replacements for CENTAX. But before choosing a replacement, the committee had to vote to terminate the CENTAX contract, which it did unanimously during Thursday's meeting. "We've had a lot of discussions and a lot of issues with CENTAX. We have a resolution that's been prepared for us for tonight removing Central Tax Bureau as tax officer for the Elk County TCC," said Rhoads. The committee subsequently voted Thursday to appoint Berkheimer Associates as Elk County's EIT collector effective the beginning of the third quarter. The company's bid included an annual commission of $99,730.40.Berkheimer Associates representative Bill Leonard said his firm had already taken over operations for CENTAX in Schuylkill and Susquehanna counties following their respective terminations of CENTAX. Leonard added that the speed with which his company can have tax collection in Elk County back to normal depends on the level of cooperation seen from CENTAX.

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