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Back taxes owed by businesses topic at West Reading council meeting

The West Reading Borough Council meeting this week opened with resident James Rogers addressing the board about business taxes.

He claimed that according to his research, local businesses owe money in back taxes, some up to five years’ worth.

He criticized Berks Earned Income Tax for not looking into the alleged discrepancies, and negatively compared Berks EIT to Berkheimer, a tax administrator company that handles the taxes of many Pennsylvania municipalities and school districts.

According to Rogers, West Reading was considering using Berkheimer to handle the borough’s taxes instead of Berks EIT, and that Berkheimer reaches out to notify people who owe money in business privilege taxes.

“That’s a system that works,” Rogers said. “But this shows me our system, presently in West Reading for many years … Something isn’t working right, at least to my estimation.”

Borough Manager Dean Murray blamed the discrepancy on computer problems at Berks EIT.

“They didn’t have a computer system for a while,” he said, “then they started to get it in place. It was an imperfect system. Supposedly, it’s getting on track, they even have an attorney on their end now, where they’re looking at doing enforcement to go back after people who have owed.”

Borough Council President Ryan Lineaweaver said that Berks EIT is “beginning to enforce collection of back taxes,” and that the borough solicitor is also looking into it.

“We’re not necessarily married to Berks (Earned Income Tax) or Berkheimer moving forward,” Lineaweaver said. “It’s something we’re looking at later in the year.”

Berks Earned Income Tax did not respond to Reading Eagle requests for comment.

In other business, council unanimously approved a revised handicapped parking policy for the borough.

Current policy is that if a resident applies for a handicapped parking space, the space would be located on the end of the block, next to the nearest ramp.

Since not every user of a handicapped parking space requires a ramp, the spaces will now be located as close as possible to the homes of the people requesting them.

Also, instead of a maximum of two or four handicapped parking spaces on each block, a percentage of every block’s parking spaces will be handicapped.

The only requirement for a handicapped parking space in West Reading is a placard approved by the state.

Previous requirements, such as proof that the applicant has trouble walking long distances, were deemed an invasion of privacy and are no longer borough policy.

Council also voted to approve Schweitzer’s Service Center’s variance application review letter to the Zoning Hearing Board on behalf of the West Reading Planning Commission.

At May’s meeting, attorney Mark Koch asked on behalf of the Schweitzers that the property be included in the business overlay district, so a convenience store can be built there.

Source: Berkshire mont

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