Paying taxes a problem in boro
People continue to have problems paying their wage taxes in Mount Oliver borough, according to one business owner who complained to council about this issue for a second consecutive month at the council meeting February 19.
At the end of last year, borough council decided to hire Jordan Tax Services to collect the borough's annual one-percent wage tax from residents and business owners.
Previously, the borough used two part-time employees to perform these duties. Going to a professional tax-collection service, rather than staff individuals on the municipal payroll, is a trend many smaller government entities in the state have followed in recent years.
“I'm having a difficult time communicating with them. They don't answer my calls,” said Rosemary Geyer, a Brownsville Road business owner who also inquired about this problem at the January council meeting.
“I understand it's a new way of doing business and it's something that has to be worked through, but I just wanted to bring it to council's attention the problems I was having and I'm not the only person having a problem paying their taxes,” she said.
“I got mail [tax forms from Jordan Tax Services] for people who have been dead for 20 years,” Mrs. Geyer said. “I have people [who live] upstairs [of the beauty salon] who want to pay their taxes yet they got nothing in the mail. That was my first concern. I handed the names and addresses of [tenants residing in the borough] to the [administrative] secretaries who work at the municipal building and hopefully they can forward this information to [Jordan Tax Services] because I've had no luck in communi-
cating with them.
“I understand that it is supposed to be more cost-effective to have an outside company collecting the taxes. I'm sure it will work out eventually, but this is the first year that they've gone to this system and it's created a lot of problems so far. I guess we just have to be patient.”
Council president Don Cornelius recognizes there have been glitches in the new system, but is confident that everything will run as smoothly for tax-payers as the previous payment system.
“When this [council] administration took office in January, 2006, this borough was $173,000 in debt,” Mr. Cornelius said. “We ended up the year 2006 [reducing the debt to $23,000] with no cuts in public safety. We made our [budgetary] adjustments in the administrative office, by outsourcing our tax collections and we've cut back on our public works. These are the facts.”
There were other business owners at the meeting who took exception with Mr. Cornelius' characterization of the Brownsville Road business corridor. Borough officials met with Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and other county officials in mid-January, expressing the borough's need for more than $600,000 in grant money to prepare a land site for attracting a supermarket.
Mr. Cornelius made a remark at the meeting with Mr. Onorato (and noted in the South Pittsburgh Reporter) that the borough did not want “predatory” businesses in the borough that attract unsavory individuals.
Instead, the borough wants “good businesses” that attract a “good” clientele of people who also come from outside the borough to shop. At the special January meeting, Mr. Cornelius cited some examples of “good” businesses in the borough. However, those who were not included in the examples were upset that they were not included in Mr. Cornelius' remarks.
Those who were not happy with the remark included the business owner of Lisa's Flower Shop, at the corner of Brownsville Road and Arlington Ave. This is a business that attracts customers from throughout the area and not just the borough.
Mr. Cornelius said he was sorry if anyone interpreted his comments differently than he intended.
The predatory businesses he was referring to may have included a bar and a “convenience” store located on the 100 block of Brownsville Road that were shut down last year because of a series of alleged activities that had been taking place there.
As for the proposed supermarket, the borough was still waiting for approval from the county for the $600,000 grant. Mr. Cornelius emphasized that the borough is in need of a supermarket to serve as an anchor for other good businesses.
Mount Oliver has not had a grocery store/supermarket within its boundaries since Foodland pulled out in 1999.