TOWANDA - Towanda Borough has a new tax collector.

During a special meeting on Tuesday, the Towanda Borough Council appointed Mary Ann Harris, who had served as the borough's secretary/treasurer for 28 years, as the borough's tax collector.

Harris replaces Dixie Cabucci, who resigned this month as Towanda Borough tax collector, a position Cabucci had held for the past 13 years.

The council appointed Harris to serve as borough tax collector through Dec. 31, 2013.

The tax collector position is up for election this year, so anyone who wishes to hold the tax collector position from January 2014 through December 2017 will need to run in the May 2013 primary.

Harris, a Democrat, said she plans to run in the May primary for Towanda Borough tax collector.

Harris retired as the borough secretary/treasurer at the end of December.

"I want to keep active," Harris said, explaining why she sought the tax collector position at this time. "I'm qualified (for the position) and I can help the borough by filling this position."

Harris was one of the two candidates who applied to fill the tax collector position.

The other was Jacob Stroud of Spruce Street, who serves on the Towanda Borough Recreation Board, coaches athletics for the Towanda School District, and had served as the director of the borough's summer recreation program for two years.

Stroud, a Republican, said he plans on running for the tax collector position in the May primary.

Stroud, 32, is self-employed as a distributor of snacks to stores and taverns, and had worked in the past as a math tutor at Towanda High and as a therapeutic support staff person for Northern Tier Counseling.

Towanda Borough Manager Tom Fairchild Jr. said the council had to appoint someone very quickly to fill the tax collector position, and therefore the position was not advertised.

Fairchild explained that Cabucci submitted her letter of resignation on Thursday, and the council has until Friday, Jan. 25 to let the Bradford County Assessment Office know who will be the tax collector for 2013 in order that the tax collector's name, address, and office hours can be printed on the county and borough 2013 property tax bills.

Cabucci's letter stated that she was leaving the tax collector position, effective immediately.

Under normal circumstances, the borough would have advertised the opening to the public and taken longer to fill the position, Fairchild said.

In a closed-door session on Tuesday, the council interviewed the two candidates.

After the closed-door session was over, the council voted unanimously to appoint Harris as the tax collector.

Council member Paul Sweitzer said he voted to appoint Harris because the new tax collector will only have a fairly short time to learn the new position, and he said he is confident that Harris would be able to do that, given her past work with the township's finances.

Sweitzer and other council members told Stroud that they appreciated that he applied for the position, and encouraged him to stay involved with the borough.

"We need more people like you to volunteer, so please don't be discouraged by this," Sweitzer told Stroud.

Cabucci said she was retiring to spend time with her family, including her newborn grandson.

"I've enjoyed my time" as tax collector, "but I'm ready to kick back," Cabucci said.

Harris said: "It had been in the back of my mind" to run for borough tax collector in 2013, because she knew that Cabucci was not going to run again for tax collector this year.

However, Harris said she didn't know until last week that Cabucci was going to retire at this time.

Stroud said he was planning to run for the tax collector position in 2013 anyway, even before he heard that Cabucci was resigning.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.