One of the most hotly contested races in this year’s primary election is for White Township tax collector, which has drawn 12 men and women to announce their candidacy after John M. O’Keefe announced in January that he would not seek re-election.
Nine of the candidates are on the Republican ballot; three are on the Democratic ballot.
O’Keefe has served as tax collector for six terms, or 24 years. His term ends Dec. 31.
There are minimal requirements to serve as tax collector, but the candidate must have lived in White Township for at least a year preceding the election.
White Township does not have a property tax, but the tax collector collects property taxes from township residents for the Indiana Area School District and Indiana County.
Compensation is generous. The school district is paying $31,711.80 to the tax collector this year, based on a rate of $5.10 per tax bill, and that rate goes up to $5.20 next year.
Indiana County pays tax collectors 5 percent of the first $50,000 it collects, then 1 percent on everything collected until the penalty date. After the penalty date, tax collectors receive 5 percent of everything collected.
Sandy Kirkland, the county treasurer, said she did not know the average amount paid to the White Township tax collector, but said that taxes due from the township are about $6 million. Of that, she said about 75 percent regularly comes in.
If all the taxes came before the penalty date, that would mean the county would pay the tax collector $47,000 for a total income of more than $78,000. But Kirkland said many people pay their property taxes after the penalty date, making that number higher.
Robin Maryai, chief clerk for Indiana County, has said previously that more candidates are showing interest in the seat than she can remember in any previous election.