Manheim Township School Superintendent Robin Felty speaks during the Q & A with the reporter at school district office in Manheim Township ., Friday, July 8, 2016. (ANDY BLACKBURN | Staff Photographer)

More than 200 people have signed a petition urging Manheim Township’s tax collector to drop a lawsuit she filed against the Manheim Township School District last year.

Patricia Kabel, who was elected to a four-year term in 2013 and re-elected last year, is suing the school district for collecting its own property taxes without Kabel’s official consent, legally known as deputization.

It’s normal practice for Manheim Township — and nearly every other Lancaster County school district — to collect its own taxes. The district saves about $40,000 annually by doing so, according to chief operating officer Donna Robbins.

That’s money Manheim Township residents hope to keep in their pockets, according to a petition started this month.

“At a minimum, she should drop the lawsuit and consider deputizing the school district,” Chris Kager, a neurosurgeon, said in a phone interview, adding that he hopes Kabel will “do the right thing” before more money is spent.

The district has paid about $14,000 in legal fees since Kabel’s original complaint was filed on Nov. 6, 2017.

Kager’s petition has garnered 201 signatures as of Tuesday.

Those signatures haven’t persuaded Kabel to drop the lawsuit, according to her attorney, Michael Peters of Eastburn and Gray.

“In our opinion, that ship has sailed,” Peters said of dropping the lawsuit and deputizing the district. “Now we’re just trying to effectuate the duties of tax collector back to her, where they belong.”

Peters said Kabel is also seeking “reasonable” compensation for her duties. According to a response to the complaint filed by Manheim Township’s district solicitor, Robert Frankhouser, the current compensation rate is 15 cents per school property tax bill collected.

In 2016-17, the school district collected 14,160 property tax bills with a total revenue of about $59 million.

“I think it goes without saying that 15 cents per bill is unreasonable,” Peters said.

Superintendent Robin Felty in an email expressed gratitude for the support shown by Manheim Township residents.

“We are greatly appreciative of the community’s attempts to help us stop the unnecessary lawsuit,” she said.

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