By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
Trying to modernize things a bit, Mercer County Commissioners Thursday approved some $21,000 in costs associated with replacing key locks with electronic cards and bought a system that will allow taxpayers to pay late property taxes online.
Commissioner Chairman John Lechner said those items are among many changes they would like to make to the century-old courthouse, trying both to improve security and keep down costs.
Controller Tom Amundsen explained that the system that will allow taxpayers who are late to make payments online will not be at the county’s expense, but rather be paid for by fees generated by those who use the online system.
After a certain point in December, he said, residents can no longer pay their annual taxes at local municipal offices and the delinquent bills are forwarded to the county. Generally, he said, people have to make a trip to the courthouse to pay those bills. A system to be installed in July will give those residents a chance to pay late taxes online, but will include not only the penalty for paying late but an additional fee, he said.
Commissioners also reactivated the county’s redevelopment authority, a group that has been inactive for years, but is now needed to move forward with the sale of some property in Sharpsville, Lechner said.
Commissioner Matt McConnell said many former members of the authority are deceased and the group, particularly active after the 1985 tornado that devastated Wheatland, fell by the wayside due to inactivity in recent years.
The board appointed Dot Hillman to a five-year term, Doug Thomas to a four-year term, Frank Curl to a three-year term, Robert Piccirilli to a two-year-term and Victor Staples to a one-year term.
In other business commissioners:
• Made an agreement with the Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission to handle pass-through costs of $7.8 million for social service programs. The county’s annual contribution to those programs remains unchanged at $410,000.
• Paid $1,305,641 in expenses from June 11 to 24. The county’s annual budget is nearly $56 million and the money spent is “about average” Lechner said.
• Hired Unique Services and Applications of Pittsburgh to remove trees and vines growing on the courthouse dome. The work will cost $7,123.