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Municipalities finally to get their cash

March 17. 2013 3:24AM

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Luzerne County municipalities and school districts should be seeing a total of about $3.5 million coming their way soon, money that was expected but never provided when Centax, the company hired to collect earned income taxes, abruptly closed.

The good news came during a Wednesday meeting of representatives from Berkheimer Associates – the company that took over Centax accounts – and the Luzerne County Tax Collection Committee, said Pamela Heard, the committee's secretary.

We had a meeting with Berkheimer and the forensic accounting company, Smart Divine, hired by a court-appointed receiver in the case, Heard said. They learned that a reconciliation of a Centax account set up for the committee had been completed, and that about $7 million in tax payments can now be forwarded to the appropriate municipalities and school districts.

About $3.5 million of that will stay in Luzerne County. The rest will be heading to other counties because many of the people who paid the taxes work here but live elsewhere.

On Thursday, Berkheimer Director of Sales Jim Hunt said there is more money to be sorted through because there are tax returns that were not processed. Those checks are stale-dated and need to be returned, Hunt said, so new checks could be written.

Hunt, who was not at Wednesday's meeting with the tax collection committee, would not speculate how much money remains to be recovered, but Heard said she believed another $3 million might still be out there.

The issue arose because the state law, known as Act 32, required each county to hire a single tax collector for all municipalities and districts. A county committee was formed and chose Centax, but the company ran into problems and ultimately sold all accounts to Berkheimer.

Berkheimer has been working to recoup lost money and sort out where it legally should go.

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