Posted by on April 23, 2021 3:06 am

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Categories: Coal Region Newswire Coal Region Newswire 2 Local News Schuylkill County Me Too

tax claims office schuylkill county courthouse

At this point, Schuylkill County taxpayers should start wondering why we pay the Commissioners and all the other folks lined up at the public funds trough anything at all.

On Wednesday, the County Commissioners voted 2-1 to hire yet another consultant to help them overhaul the tax offices they essentially blew up a couple weeks ago. Virginia “Ginny” Murray was hired at a $40 per hour rate to “provide oversight to the tax assessment office, provide training to new and existing employees, and assist in the transitioning to a new chief assessor.”

Murray’s contract has a cap of 105 hours per month, or $4,200 per month.

Commissioners Boots Hetherington and George Halcovage voted in favor of the hire. Gary Hess voted against it.

“Because of my opposition to the restructuring and the litigation, I vote ‘No’,” Hess said during the Commissioners’ roll call vote Wednesday.

Schuylkill County Hires ANOTHER Consultant to Overhaul Tax Offices

The vote to hire Murray comes just a couple weeks after the county Salary Board approved hiring Anthony Alu as a consultant overseeing the Tax Assessment office. So, that’s two consultants brought in to help sort out the alleged mess in the county’s Tax Claim Bureau and Tax Assessment office.

All these consultants are allegedly needed because back in mid-March, the Commissioners voted to blow up these offices, demoting two employees and cutting their pay, because “it never seemed to work out” the way the offices were run together.

So, the county sounded very sure that these offices weren’t running efficiently but apparently have no clue how to fix them. Otherwise, why bring in not just one, but two consultants to help oversee the transition to some new operation?

The decision to even tinker with these offices at the time it’s being done has ginned up quite a bit of controversy. Two of the employees affected by the personnel moves in March are allegedly among the Jane Does in the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the County.

Clerk of Courts Maria Casey, the most vocal among the opposition to the Commissioners (specifically related to the tax offices mess, especially), believes the decision to reorganize these offices is retaliation against the women filing that lawsuit.

The local daily paper, the Republican Herald, even labeled Halcovage as “arrogant” for having the audacity to vote on the issue.

And, indeed, that’s why Hess said he voted against hiring Murray for this new consultants’ position.

It seems that if the County officials were so sure the offices weren’t running efficiently, they’d have a solution at the ready to avoid bringing in a pair of consultants to oversee any transition. Wouldn’t that be in the job description of the County Administrator, the County Human Resources officer, and certainly a County Commissioner? What do we pay them for if they’re only going to decide to hire outside help?

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