Munhall council is hoping to quickly resolve a problem that resulted in hundreds of residents who paid their 2012 real estate taxes being sent delinquency notices.
As a result, questions about uncredited deposits, cash flow, discount payments and more were raised by council at its April 17 meeting.
"I'm definitely concerned, there is definitely an issue,'' council President Joseph Ballas said. "But I don't point fingers until I get all the information,''
A closed meeting of council's finance committee, borough tax collector Donna Mercuri, and Legal Tax Service municipal collections company was scheduled for last night. Answers may also come from the annual borough audit planned for early May, which will include the tax office.
Mr. Ballas said auditors also are being sought to examine procedures in the tax office.
Mrs. Mercuri said it all began when she was not able to download the list of paid and unpaid tax parcels from an old computer in her office.
A borough employee stepped in and the pair did what they both thought was a successful download.
The flash drive and hard copies of paid taxes and delinquencies from the flash drive, were delivered to Legal Tax Service, which collects delinquent taxes.
About 1,207 delinquent notices were then sent to owners of parcels notifying them that their 2012 payment was delinquent and that they risked having liens put on their properties.
The next day, the phones lit up at Legal Tax and at the borough with irate taxpayers who had paid their taxes.
Mrs. Mercuri said the correct information has always existed, but that it was downloaded incorrectly, resulting in inaccurate information being sent to Legal Tax Service.
She has since sent the company an amended delinquent tax list.
At the April 17 meeting, Councilman Dan Lloyd said 416 residents to date have proven to Legal Tax Service that they paid their taxes. The face amount of the taxes of those 416 residents is $249,060.44.
He also said $250,000 was collected and deposited to the borough's account, but not credited to specific taxpayers.
There are also issues about taxpayers who paid during the discount period, but were not credited as such, Mr. Lloyd said.
He also said he has not yet received answers to questions he submitted to Ms. Mercuri on April 16, such as how much money did the borough lose to stale checks that were never cashed and how much money has been wasted on postage due to errors in the tax office.
Mayor Ray Bodnar said he is worried about cash flow from checks that were not cashed.
Mrs. Mercuri said all checks were deposited.
Mrs. Mercuri said she is now using the new laptop computer provided by the borough, and everything is working fine.
She said she apologized to taxpayers who called on the telephone and would like to send apology letters.
Legal Tax also sent letters to paid taxpayers stating their accounts had been corrected, and apologizing for the inconvenience.
Mr. Ballas is confident of a timely resolution to the problem.
"We are going to work it out,'' he said. " We'll find out what went wrong, and correct it.''
Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.