NASD lawyer concerned about West Norriton Township tax collector

WEST NORRITON — Monday night’s Norristown Area School Board meeting was moving into the final stages of the agenda when attorney Mike Clarke stepped in with concerns about tax collection.

“Before I move on to the financial report, I wanted to give the board, and more importantly the public, an update on an ongoing issue we are dealing with here in the district regarding the West Norriton tax collector, Mike Murray,” Clarke said. .

Clarke noted an “ongoing problem” with the representative representing West Norriton Township.

According to the 19th edition of the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services “Tax Collector’s Manual”, “The local tax collector is the municipal agent designated to collect municipal and school property and personal taxes levied under municipal codes, and in most county real estate and personal tax cases.

As the geographical boundaries of the Norristown Area School District encompass Norristown, as well as the townships of East Norriton and West Norriton, Clarke informed those present of the quagmire at hand. The school district has been in contact with officials from Montgomery County and West Norriton Township, he said.

“As of the 2020-2021 tax year, Mr. Murray has been unable to provide accurate and timely monthly collection reports to the school district and these two other taxing authorities,” Clarke said. “…He was unable to reconcile the 2020-2021 school tax collections, which should have been completed in January of this year.”

“Because of this inability to reconcile tax collections, the county alerted Mr. Murray’s surety company, and the surety company hired auditors to come and audit the 2020-2021 tax collection,” said he continued. “We have been advised by the county that auditors do not believe they will ever be able to reconcile tax collections for 2020-2021 for residents of West Norriton and for residents of the Norristown Area School District who are tax payers. who live in West Norriton.

In addition to the problems taxpayers face in obtaining the “necessary tax certificates for transfers of ownership or for mortgage refinancing,” Clarke noted other monetary issues.

“Issues have continued into 2021-22 and the collection delays homeowners are experiencing,” Clarke said, adding that district officials have heard “from people who mailed their payments, or loan companies mortgages have mailed their payments, but their checks have not been deposited.

“The problem began to affect [the] financially from the Norristown School District,” Clarke later said. “There is a significant delay in the payments we are experiencing[cing] of the West Norriton tax collector.

Clarke mentioned the significant differences in collection amounts three times when comparing 2021 and 2020 figures.

“Mr. Murray’s payments to the school district in July of this year were nearly $900,000 less than the same period in July 2020,” Clarke said. “Mr. Murray’s payments in August 2021 were $332,000 less than the same time last year, and more importantly, and more troubling, Mr. Murray’s payments to the Norristown Area School District in September of this year were $12.4 million. less than the same period of … September 2020.”

“These delays are impacting our cash flow,” Clarke continued. “They cause loss of income and, as I said, while he is separated from the school district, our business office is dealing with a considerable number of complaints about Mr. Murray’s lack of availability and lack of reactivity.”

Clarke recommended that all West Norriton Township residents who may receive a late payment notice first check the payment status with their bank or mortgage company.

“At that time, we will ask you to contact the school district, business office, and we will work with you to have the delinquency lifted from your account so that you are not listed as delinquent,” said Clarke. “Unfortunately, that’s all we can do at the moment.”

The school district’s business department can be reached from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 610-630-5000. Callers must first press “7” then “2” for help.

Esther L. Steinbach