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TMCNet:  Lebanon County Tax Collection Committee: Keystone critic becomes a fan

[January 17, 2013]

Lebanon County Tax Collection Committee: Keystone critic becomes a fan

Jan 17, 2013 (Lebanon Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Just over a year ago, Ken Shirk was a harsh critic of Keystone Collections Group, the hired earned income tax collector for Lebanon County.

Shirk, who owns Sonrise Tags and Tax in Lebanon, told the Lebanon County Tax Collection Committee on Dec. 21, 2011, that his dealings with Keystone were "among the worst I've ever had." He listed a series of complaints, many having to do with customer-service issues.

Today, Shirk is a happy customer.

"What a difference a year makes," Shirk, now a member of the committee, said Wednesday. "Literally, it's like night and day. We are getting much better satisfaction." Shirk represents Northern Lebanon School District municipalities on the committee.

Comparing Keystone's online tax filing system with those of its competitors, Shirk told Keystone representatives at the meeting, "Yours is clearly the one we prefer. ... Things are running much, much smoother." Shirk's comments came after Rose Harr, Keystone's vice president for client relations, and Rob Good, Keystone's community liaison, said that Keystone will soon roll out a new online system for municipalities and school districts to access information.

"You will be able to see year-to-date collections, search reports and upload reports," Harr said. "You can make your own graphics and make your own report. ... Our goal is to meet any client request within seven days." Good said the system will include a message board for staff to communicate with Keystone representatives.

A handful of municipalities or school districts will be selected to test the new system, probably by the end of January. Harr said she anticipates that the system will be fully operational by July.

Harr said Keystone's final gross earned income tax collection for Lebanon County in 2012 was $31,441,815. Keystone's commission was $440,820.

Committee president Mike Kuhn announced that an ad-hoc committee that has been studying tax collection and administration options will present a report at the full committee's Feb. 20 meeting.

"We will have a conversation about some things we've discussed so far," Kuhn said. Included will be results of a survey taken of school districts and municipalities to determine what they prefer for tax collection and administrative services.

During a reorganization, Kuhn was re-elected as president, with Brandon Bernard as vice president and David Hauck as treasurer. Helen Westphal volunteered to replace Len Schott on the tax-appeal board.

The board's March 20 meeting will be held at the large-group instruction room at Cedar Crest High School instead of in the Cornwall-Lebanon administration building.

stevesnyder@ldnews.com; 717-272-5611, ext. 152 ___ (c)2013 the Lebanon Daily News (Lebanon, Pa.) Visit the Lebanon Daily News (Lebanon, Pa.) at www.ldnews.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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