Sewickley Works to Resolve Issue of $335,000 in Tax Liens
Many of the 35 properties with outstanding liens either don’t have a physical address or sit vacant and abandoned.
Councilman Stan Ference said officials would decide at the Jan. 26 meeting how to handle the $335,636 in outstanding liens for 35 borough properties, many of which either don’t have a physical address or have been sitting vacant and abandoned.
A tax lien is a legal claim filed against a property to collect a debt.
“We’re meeting to figure out what we want to do with these 35 properties that have no valid owner or address where essentially people have walked away,” Ference said at Monday night's council meeting.
Sewickley has been cracking down on delinquent properties in recent years, with more back taxes being collected every year than in the previous year. In 2011, the borough collected $174,000 in delinquent taxes, compared with 2008, when the borough recouped $88,000.
Ference said a few years ago officials took a look at the delinquent tax properties and grouped them into two categories: putting the more current delinquencies in one column and the older, outstanding delinquencies that were the result of vacant or abandoned properties in another.
“This has been going on for three to four years now,” Ference said. “This is sort of the next logical progression.”
Borough Manager Kevin Flannery said $300,000 in Sewickley equals about 1 mill in taxes, money that could be used for roads or other projects.
Anyone who did not pay taxes in 2011 wouldn’t be eligible for lien status until Dec. 31, 2012.
Ference said the borough was willing to work with property owners who have fallen behind on their taxes. However, some property owners haven’t made payments in years. One of the 35 properties on the list includes a $10,000 sidewalk lien on Academy Avenue that dates back to 1999.
“We’re not looking to put people out of their homes, but everybody has to pay their taxes, or there is going to be a consequence,” he said.
The meeting with Jordan Tax Service will determine what to do with the properties, such as whether to make an effort to get them back to taxpaying status, or petition the courts for land titles that would open up properties for reuse and return them to the tax rolls.
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