Springettsbury Township and two county school districts are pursuing legal action to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds they say they didn't get from Springettsbury Township tax collector Margaret Cousler.

That money allegedly includes funds that Cousler didn't turn over outright and losses in earnings from funds she turned in late.

Cousler, however, says that illness delayed her in dealing with some claims and that she's being treated unfairly.

Springettsbury Township, Central York School Board and York Suburban School Board have all directed attorneys to contact Cousler's surety bond company.

Phil Spare of Stock and Leader, the law firm representing the school districts, said surety bond companies provide coverage for tax collectors, similar to insurance coverage. They're supposed to provide coverage for tax collectors that fail to produce the funds for which they're responsible.

The township and the school districts all put out news releases Monday or Tuesday stating that Cousler failed to turn over a large amount of tax revenue from 2007 and 2008. The news releases also state that investigations by an accounting firm found that Cousler had unusually high balances in several bank accounts during that time.

The township and districts became aware of the situation because real estate tax remittances for the 2007-08 school year lagged behind past years, according to the news releases.

"We've given her an opportunity to respond and she has not done that," Spare said Tuesday evening of Cousler.


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"I can't give any specifics, but I believe the motion passed by both school boards authorized us to submit a claim to the bonding company and take legal action if necessary."

Spare declined to say whether school district officials had discussed pursuing charges.

In an interview Tuesday, Cousler said a hand condition doctors were unable to diagnose made her ill for a few months in 2007. From June to October, she was hospitalized and then in a nursing home.

"I couldn't write, couldn't dress myself, couldn't feed myself," Cousler said. "I gave (the school districts and the township) their money as fast as I could sign my name."

Now, Cousler said, she has all of the payments accounted for and just has to catch up on paperwork.

"I just don't understand," she said. "I've bent over backward to get them everything and more."

Daily Record/Sunday News correspondent Adam J. Richman contributed to this report.

THE CLAIMS

The following are some of the claims made against Margaret Cousler, according to the township and school districts:

Springettsbury Township

  • Cousler has not accounted for and remitted $82,725.99 of the real estate collections, $4,044.37 of the streetlight tax collections and $155.51 of the prior year's tax collections for 2007.

  • Bank accounts that Cousler used had inexplicable balances.

  • Monthly reports Cousler provided the township were late, had mathematical errors and didn't provide a full accounting of the 2007 real estate and street light taxes.

    Central York School District

  • Cousler hasn't turned over $22,328.55 of the real estate collections from July 15, 2007, through Jan. 16, 2008.

  • She was also late turning over remittances to the district during that time, resulting in potential lost earnings of about $52,389.

  • There's an inexplicable discrepancy of $10,945.54 between reports generated by Cousler's computer system and the original tax duplicates.

  • Several bank accounts she used had unusually high balances as of December 2007.

    York Suburban School District

  • Cousler was late with remittances from July 1, 2007, through Jan. 16, 2008, resulting in about $31,550 in potential lost earnings.

  • Two bank accounts Cousler maintained had inexplicable balances of $17,638.21 and $44,972.66.

  • An analysis of interim real estate taxes billed and collected over the past 14 months indicates that a balance of $127,960.21 remains to be collected or turned over to tax claims.