mulberry bag sale County refuses to pay bill from city
SUNBURY Northumberland County Commissioners Rick Shoch and Sam Schiccatano refuse to pay a $25,000 invoice from the city of Sunbury over tax collection services until they determine the legitimacy of the bill. It’s the second municipality in the last five months in which they have questioned the validity of costs incurred.
At Tuesday’s public meeting, minority Commissioner Kymberley Best called for a vote to pay the bill, but it failed for lack of a second from Shoch or Schiccatano. The two majority commissioners say are doing their due diligence and making sure the costs incurred are accurate before committing to pay it.
“I’m from Sunbury. Whether we are doing something, whether inadvertent or not, where we are unduly benefiting them, and we’re not doing that for other people, that’s unfair,” Shoch said. “Whether that’s my hometown, or it’s Coal Township Mr. Schiccatano’s hometown or some other municipality in this county, what’s fair is fair.”
The county is already locked in a legal battle over bills with Coal Township. The county filed a lawsuit in January against the township in an attempt to recoup $220,801 in permit fees because Shoch and Schiccatano believe the township wrongfully charged them for the future county prison project on the Northumberland County South Campus in Coal Township.
Schiccatano said he is doesn’t know whether the bills are legitimate, but wants to sit down with the city to discuss it.
As a third class city, Sunbury provides the tax collection services for the county and Shikellamy School District for residents who live in the city. By law, the city is allowed to seek reimbursement from the county and Shikellamy. The bills from Dec. 1 for the county was $25,985.69 and for the school district was $30,482.
The salaries, stationery, supplies, printing, notices, postage, telephone service, office equipment and incidental expenses necessarily incurred in the conduct of the tax collectors office are valid shared expenses under the law. She also noticed that Shamokin, another third class city, only billed the county approximately $900.
“To ask him to do so (turn over receipts) or withhold payment unless he does so, it’s disrespect to the treasurer and disrespect to the city,” Best said. “We’re not talking about anything wildly out of the norm.”
It is not the county’s job to audit the city, Best said.
“A decision not to pay this should have been made here (in a public meeting),” Best said.
When questioned, the city submitted another bill for $25,110.89 $874.80 less. Some of the expenses went down, others went up, the largest being a reduction of $646.67 for bonds and dues. Sunbury Treasurer Kevin Troup admitted immediately the bonds line item should be taken off after a conversation with Adam Purdy, of Purdy Insurance, that each tax collector should be paying for their own bond.
Shoch said this was proof that the county was right in looking into the bills, but Troup said some new bills came in and he also took some items off after the complaints because the city, while the law allows for reimbursement, uses some of the equipment more than the county.
Nevertheless, Troup said he felt disrespected as an elected official that a county employee questioned his work.
“I have no idea what they’re doing,” Troup said. “This is the way we’ve billed for 40 plus years. They’re making a big thing out of this because of nothing.”
The county has paid their share without issue since 1989 when a question of pension reimbursement came up, and the city successfully sued the county to resolve the issue.