BLAIRSVILLE — Blairsville Borough tax collector Carol Tarasovich resigned from office on Tuesday, saying that a “hostile” environment prevented her from serving effectively.
Appointed in February and elected to a full four-year term in November, Tarasovich is stepping aside with perhaps $191,000 in local tax revenue still on the table.
The amount is the difference between what she has collected and the estimated amounts of what should have been collected for the borough and Blairsville-Saltsburg School District.
Council accepted Tarasovich’s resignation at its monthly meeting Tuesday evening and said it would immediately begin accepting nominations for successors.
Tarasovich didn’t attend the meeting and announced her resignation through two letters to borough council, one thanking it for its confidence in appointing her, and the other tendering her resignation.
In both letters, Tarasovich cited a hostile environment as the reason for her departure.
“It is not my intention to disappoint the taxpayers that have elected me to serve the next four years, however the environment has become too hostile to serve in this position,” she wrote.
Her resignation comes a week after an auditing firm reported finding significant problems with her office. Among other things, the auditors said Tarasovich’s records were incomplete and didn’t agree and that they had found more than $268,000 in undeposited tax payments sitting in her office and home.
The audit, conducted by the school district’s auditor, Wessel & Co., followed numerous complaints from taxpayers and mortgage companies that tax payments were being deposited late, if at all. The auditors said in their report that they reviewed more than 50 such complaints.
And council heard another at the meeting Tuesday night.
Ridgeview Circle resident Pam Sulkowski said she had paid her tax bill on Dec. 26, but, as of Tuesday, the payment still hadn’t cleared the bank.
“I just want it cashed and credited,” Sulkowski said.
Although Tarasovich’s resignation became official Tuesday night, it appears she checked out of office well before then, considering her own words and a missed Dec. 13 deadline to file paperwork for inclusion under a countywide blanket bond.
Under state law, tax collectors are required to be bonded, insuring the municipalities they collect for from such things as fraud and theft.
It hadn’t been clear whether Tarasovich’s failure to file the paperwork was intentional or accidental. However, she answered that question in her resignation letter.
“It was deliberate on my part not to turn in my application as I had no desire to continue to serve in this position,” she stated. “The environment has become too hostile to serve effectively,” she said.
Now that Tarasovich has stepped aside, some focus will be put on naming her successor, who will serve for two years. Council has tentatively scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. Feb. 6 to conduct public interviews with candidates.