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Unpaid Property Taxes Cost Sewickley

Sewickley officials say delinquencies total $358,000 in unpaid taxes to the borough.

Borough officials are going after delinquent real estate taxes.

At Tuesday night's council meeting, Councilman Stan Ference said the borough worked for two years putting together a list to pursue property owners who owe back taxes.

The list is about four pages long and is still being sorted through, he said,  because the listings are based on lot numbers and not necessarily by owner.

Delinquencies total $358,000 in unpaid taxes to Sewickley. One mill brings in about $310,000 in taxes for the borough.

“It’s a significant amount of money,"  Ference said. 

Borough Manager Kevin Flannery said Sewickley is making every effort to collect the back taxes.

“The idea is if you clean up lots and make them more productive…you’re getting something back on your tax rolls,” Flannery said.

Some of the delinquencies date as far back to the 1930s and 1940s. Properties have been abandoned or their tax bills simply left unpaid, allowing fees and interest to accumulate. In other cases, property owners have passed away, and their kin can’t be located.

Flannery said the borough is working along with the Quaker Valley to identify the delinquent properties that are to be moved along to sheriff’s sale. Officials from both entities plan to meet later this month. 

Sewickley has become more aggressive when it comes to taxes, so the crackdown on delinquent payments isn't new territory. The borough collects about $80,000 to $100,000 in back taxes every year, according to borough estimates.  But Sewickley officials said they realize a sizeable chunk of delinquencies won't be collected.  

That's why a bigger focus is being placed first on the prime real estate -- properties that will yield the maximum return in revenue and have a better chance of getting back on the rolls. 

Ference said the borough has to get a handle on the property values and their locations. 

Councilman Dean S.C. Williams has volunteered to help investigate the properties.

“Some are nice valuable properties. Others are 1 ½-foot strips that cut down by the railroad tracks,” Ference said.

Council President Robert Hague commended all those involved.

“I think it’s good for the community to know this council has done its due diligence,” Hague said. 

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