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School district fights county tax bureau

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SCRANTON (WOLF) -- A school district outside of Scranton is fighting the county's tax claim bureau.

The Abington Heights school superintendent, business manager, and two board members spoke out at the Lackawanna County commissioners meeting on Wednesday.

They say they've been using a company called PortnoffLaw Associates to collect past-due school taxes.

Suddenly after 10 years, the tax claim bureau now wants a 5-percent fee, and the district says it can't afford that.

"Make no mistake. $75,000 is a very big deal," says Abington Heights school board secretary Michele Tierney. "I respectfully request that the commissioners leave in place the arrangement that over the past decade has worked so well."

Tierney says they've already cut staff by 15 percent.

The Tax Claim Bureau says North Pocono and Carbondale schools use the same debt collector and have agreed to pay the five percent.

"This five-percent commission is statutory and we're asking for it to be paid so we can defray costs and we can help our taxpayers so aggregately, we don't have to raise taxes," says bureau deputy director Ronald Koldjeski.

Koldjeski mentioned a related court decision involving East Stroudsburg schools and PA Land Title, which is from 2006.

After some discussion, the matter was tabled.

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