Judge Rules Economy Borough Acted Inappropriately In Slashing Tax Collector’s Pay

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photograph © Economy Borough

Economy Borough Tax Collector Dorothy Gnarra has prevailed in a lawsuit she filed against the Borough earlier this year. Gnarra filed the lawsuit back in February, after Borough Council members voted to slash her pay by 60%.

Economy Borough Council, dominated by members of the now defunct Bipartisan Committee for a Better Economy Borough, had overridden a veto by Mayor David Poling back in January, and moved forward with an ordinance drastically slashing the tax collector’s pay. Gnarra filed the lawsuit soon after, alleging she would no longer be able to afford to maintain her office.

The Borough’s tax collector had been paid roughly $45,000 in 2012, equal to 2.5% of collected taxes, a rate which had been set in place since 1986. Under Pennsylvania Law, boroughs can pay their tax collectors up to 5% of the taxes they collect as payment. Economy Borough Council’s new ordinance had set a rate of just 1%, or a yearly salary of roughly $18,000.

Gnarra told the court that she works 40 to 45 hours per week as tax collector, including 21 hours a week holding public office hours providing customer service to her constituents. Gnarra also said that due to her workload she also requires an assistant, who she pays for.

Councilwoman Michelle Lapinski had testified at a hearing held in the case that the Borough could not afford to pay 2.5% to Gnarra, and that the town’s financial position required the reduction. But just a couple of weeks after her testimony, and right before the general elections held on November 5th, Economy Borough Council voted unanimously for a tax cut of one-half mill.

Councilman Donald Sivy’s wife, Mary Jo Sivy, had been running against Gnarra for the position of tax collector, leaving Mayor David Poling to call the move to slash her pay politically motivated. Mayor Poling also accused council members of carrying out personal vendettas by passing the ordinance.

Mary Jo Sivy was defeated in the primary elections, and Councilman Don Sivy lost his bid for reelection to council amid the controversy.

In a ruling handed down by Beaver County Judge Gus Kwidis this week, the court found in favor of Dorthy Gnarra. Judge Kwidis determined the new pay rate set by Council was so low it deprived Gnarra the ability to perform the duties required by her elected office.

Judge Kwidis vacated the ordinance passed by Council, returning her pay to the previously established rate of 2.5% of collected taxes.

 

7 comments

  1. Story updated @ 5:15pm to include estimated salary figures on top of percentage payouts.

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  2. She works 40 – 45 hrs a week?? Her office is in her home……

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  3. My office is in my home, too. What does that have to do with the number of hours worked? If the job takes that much time, it doesn’t matter where it is – there is just a very short commute.

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  4. You just have to love when the court system does the right thing and puts these politicians in their place….now if we could just get a judge with a set of balls big enough to do the same to George David we’d be all set.

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  5. appears Michelle Lapinski’s testimony was a serious abridgment of the legal process. Perjury is considered a crime against justice. State and federal penalties for perjury include fines and/or prison terms upon conviction. Federal law (18 USC § 1621), states that anyone found guilty of the crime will be fined or imprisoned for up to five years. And if you are convicted, you may even lose your livelihood. If you work in a profession where truthfulness is valued, such as the legal profession, law enforcement, and some public service jobs, you could lose your professional license. Perjury is considered a very serious crime against the integrity of the justice system. Maybe Mrs. Lapinski needs to consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney next.

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  6. Nice to see the court system prevails for the righteous once again, unfortunatlly the evil doers used tax dollars for there own agenda. Seems like the election prevailed for the righteous cause also, Gary, Pat, Frank and even Paul Thomas TOP vote getters. Hopefully the dark ages of Economy Borough is over and the righteous shine light on the darkness

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