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York County Library System owes $131,000 in unemployment compensation, fees

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The York County Library System owes more than $131,000 in unpaid unemployment compensation contributions, interest and penalties, according to a lien filed with the York County prothonotary's office.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Office of Unpaid Unemployment Compensation Tax Services filed the lien Aug. 18, according to the document. The unpaid contributions date to the first quarter of 2011. The last of the 12 citations is in the fourth quarter of 2013. All of the unpaid contributions are employer, according to the lien.

The library system racked up $26,364 in interest as of Aug. 8, according to the lien. The interest rate is 3 percent per year, prorated for each month or fraction of a month from when they are due to when they are paid, according to the state Fiscal Code. It also owes a $250 penalty for the fourth quarter of 2012.

All told, the library system owes $131,458.59.

System President Bill Schell said the organization became aware of the unpaid unemployment taxes earlier this year when the Office of Commonwealth Libraries withheld a grant because of the lien.

Schell said the unpaid taxes came as a result of the merger between the Martin Library and the York County Library System to create the Library Company of York, which dates to around 2005, plus the hiring of summer tutors through the city school district.

“The two together created a higher rate and more to pay on our part,” Schell said. “But the Department of Labor and Industry didn’t inform us of the change. We went on three years paying what we thought we owed.”

Since discovering the problem, Schell said the library system has been working with an attorney to pay the amount owed.

The lien document indicates the library system has made some payments, notably $27,861 on $28,469 due from the first quarter of 2011. It also paid $5,909 on $9,796 from the fourth quarter of 2013.

Schell said Labor and Industry removed the lien, allowing the system to receive grant funding again. A message left for Labor and Industry officials was not immediately returned.

York County has a library tax that generates between $2.4 million and $2.5 million for the system, said County Commissioner Doug Hoke. He said the library system has been requesting more funding over the past few budget cycles as state funding has been cut. The county has held the funding steady, he said.

The county’s budget process for 2015 got underway last month, and Hoke said the commissioners likely would be speaking to library system representatives soon.

“I’m surprised,” he said. “Not having any details, I’m sure we’ll have to bring this up with them.”

Schell stressed that the library system did not underpay intentionally and is correcting the problem.

“This is a good-faith process,” he said. “Why would we want to jeopardize our situation?”

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