Carlisle Borough Council will meet Thursday to discuss replacing its elected tax collector. George Hicks was stripped of his office last week when he plead guilty to a felony charge of drug selling.
The tax collector is not a glamorous position in local government. The only qualification is to be a registered voter in the municipality.
It's a lot of work and doesn't pay well and involves collecting local, school district and county property taxes and a per capita tax.
George Hicks Jr. was sworn in as tax collector by our own Kirk Wilson, who was the Carlisle Mayor at the time on January 3, 2012. At the time, he was the youngest and first African-American to be elected to the post.
A short eight months later he was arrested for selling marijuana to an undercover police officer. Following his guilty plea last week to a felony drug charge, a judge removed him from office.
Carlisle Borough Council has 30 days to appoint a successor. If it fails, the vacancy board has 15 days to act. If not, by default, tax collection reverts to each of the taxing authorities.
"I think the council is going to be hard-pressed to make an appointment knowing someone is going to be elected tax collector through the primary election process,” explained Borough Council President Perry Heath. “Without speculating too much I think we're going to be hard-pressed to appoint someone. Along those same lines I'm not aware of anybody who has come forward asking for the appointment."
Following the August arrest of Hicks, a judge appointed Carlisle's Finance Department to serve as tax collector until the conclusion of the criminal case. Heath thinks that system will remain in place for the next nine months until a newly-elected tax collector takes office in January.
Heath says it's time to evaluate the role of the local tax collector. He says at the very least standards of accountability should be established, including auditing procedures, mandatory qualifications and certification.