Schuylkill County Hires New Chief Tax Assessor Amid Controversies
Schuylkill County has a new Chief Tax Assessor but his hiring on Wednesday is questionable, at best.
At their latest regular meeting, Schuylkill County Commissioners voted 2-1 to approve the hire of Kent Hatter, of Wayne Township, as the new Chief Tax Assessor. He’ll get paid a salary of $51,420.
Hatter’s hiring is the first significant move since the County decided to shake up the Tax offices at the Courthouse. Back in March, the County decided to split the Tax Assessment and Tax Claims office.
They claimed the way the offices were set up just wasn’t working. However, they didn’t specify why they weren’t working out, just that they weren’t working. The County denied that the shake-up had anything to do with the federal lawsuit filed against it by 4 Jane Doe plaintiffs – at least 2 of whom allegedly worked in that office – claiming they were subjected to sexual harassment by Commissioner George Halcovage.
Commissioner Gary Hess voted against the hiring during Wednesday’s meeting. He said, in a statement prior to his NO vote, that he believes the shake-up wasn’t necessary and it shouldn’t have been made while the litigation was pending against the County.
Hiring of New Chief Tax Assessor Questioned
For now, however, let’s ignore the fact that this job and hire are connected, at least indirectly, to the Halcovage lawsuit. As problematic as it may be that the County is advancing on its plans for the Tax offices, that’s just one of the controversies surrounding this hiring.
Back in March, the County claimed the office wasn’t running efficiently but couldn’t explain how. So, the County hired two consultants to help them figure it out.
The County agreed to pay these consultants more than $4,000 a month. They’ve been on the job for a little over a month now and their big solution so far … ?
- Hire a guy who owns his own business and is unlikely to devote full-time attention to his new County job but will get paid a handsome full-time salary;
- Hire a guy who just happens to be the Campaign Manager for the current Action County Controller Sharyn Yackenchick
Hatter is a Broker/Owner of a Re/Max business based in Orwigsburg, a business he started with his wife back in 2004.
While it’s certainly not illegal to own a business and hold a county office or a county job, Hatter will only be the latest working at the Courthouse who has more than one priority.
What was the point of the consultants? Did the County really need to shell out more than $8,000 (so far) to have two people tell them they should hire someone they already know who’s politically connected to at least one Schuylkill row officer?
For the record, during Wednesday’s Salary Board meeting, Yackenchick abstained from voting for Hatter’s salary, disclosing that he’s working on her current political campaign for Controller.
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