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Kingston criticizes tax-collecting agency

Administrator complains about Wilkinson agency after tax collections fall way short.

KINGSTON -- Borough Administrator Paul Keating on Monday night voiced his frustrations with the services of the Don Wilkinson Tax Agency.

In June, Keating notified council of his intentions to contact the agency about his dissatisfaction. Prior to his sending an official letter in June, the municipality had received $236,000 less in earned income tax revenue than it had received at that point in 2008.

In response to a letter Keating sent to the agency, Wilkinson representatives noted that clerical and technical policy changes have created internal problems. Processed collections in the last few weeks have also lessened the shortfall to $120,000.

Council member Jack Schumacher said he was skeptical of the firm’s explanation. He pointed to a letter Keating sent to the same agency in 2006 that threatened the termination of the relationship between the agency and the municipality.

While Keating acknowledged that the $120,000 figure is more in line with municipal expectations, he said the level of service that Kingston has received has left him with questions.

He told the council he intends to request a list of Kingston taxpayers who filed state tax returns from Joe Rodriguez, the business manager of the Wyoming Valley West School District.

Keating will then make a similar request of the Don Wilkinson tax agency to compare information in search of discrepancies.

Several members of council applauded Keating’s efforts and expressed their own concerns about the tax agency. Keating said he was “shocked” at the level of service received in the face of an upcoming change to state law that will allow only one tax collector for each county.

By September of this year, municipalities and school districts throughout the county will be required to appoint a voting representative to a body that will then determine which single agency will collect taxes for each of the county’s municipalities and school districts.

In another issue, Keating told council that Paul Franco, superintendent of the U.S. Post Office on Wyoming Avenue, has been “extremely cooperative” in helping the borough to resolve ongoing parking disputes in the area.

During the June council meeting, several residents from the area around the Reynolds Street and Wyoming Avenue intersection were angry that parking regulations were not enforced. They said inconveniences were being caused by postal employees parking on the street instead of alternative lots that were available to them.

The council said it is confident the postal employee aspect of the issue would now be resolved. The council said it will look toward other businesses in the area should the problem persist.

Residents from the intersection of Hedge Place and Wyoming Avenue were at Monday’s meeting to bring up their own parking concerns.

Like the Reynolds Street residents, Harold Rosenn and Basil Rossi complained that parking is creating major inconveniences during business hours.

They said fire trucks and ambulances would have great difficulty accessing residences in cases of emergency.

The two men requested on behalf of other neighborhood residents that the municipality restrict parking to one side of the street and placing time limitations on that side.

Council pledged to look into the issue.

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