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Schuylkill County News

Schuylkill County Tax Office Consultants Kept On for 6 More Months

Will this be the last renewal of their services? County says yes, history says probably not.

A pair of consultants for the Schuylkill County Tax Assessment office were retained once again by Commissioners on Wednesday.

By a unanimous vote, the Commissioners agreed to keep consultants Anthony Alu and Virginia Murray on through June 30. The purpose of their extension is for “consulting and training in the Tax Assessment office.”

The County says Alu and Murray will “be involved to consult in anticipation of a court-ordered countywide reassessment.”

The last countywide property assessment was done in 1996.

Tax Office Consultants Retained for 6 More Months

Alu and Murray will continue to get paid $40 per hour for their consultant work with Schuylkill County. Alu is a former Luzerne County tax assessor and Murray is a former Schuylkill County employee.

Murray is referenced in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Commissioner George Halcovage. Her names comes up as someone whom the Commissioner allegedly targeted with inappropriate comments about her sexuality.

Both consultants were brought in as part of the Commissioners’ “plan” to overhaul the Tax Claim and Tax Assessment offices at the Courthouse.

Two employees of that office are among the four women who filed that federal civil lawsuit against Halcovage and other Courthouse officials. They’ve since been suspended without pay and the Commissioners even weighed firing them last year before backing off that action.

When the County said it was overhauling those offices, you’d suspect they had a plan in place to do so. But the prolonged contract with Alu and Murray suggests it didn’t really have a plan and would rely on these consultants’ advice.

Since they were originally contracted back in 2021, the County has said Alu and Murray would be advising on how those tax offices should operate, also to help with Tax Claim sales and now to help with a presumed countywide reassessment. So far, the consultants have overseen the hiring of a new Chief Tax Assessor, Kent Hatter, who had to prepare for and take a state test – on your dime – to qualify for the job he was hired to do. And in another move, the County is now allowing a Luzerne County firm to manage its Tax Claim property sales.

This is the County’s second renewal of Alu and Murray’s services. At Wednesday’s Commissioners meeting, County Administrator Gary Bender apparently tried to allay Commissioner Gary Hess’ concern about a never-ending contract with the pair of consultants. He said when he suggested to Hatter that they could retain them through the end of 2022, they said they’d only need 6 months.


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. PTFloridians

    January 20, 2022 at 8:39 am

    Isn’t that just convenient and cushy. My guess is that someone is doing someone a favor for a relative or friend (s) at $40/hr…unreal. Grifting at it’s finest.

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