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Delinquent Tarentum property taxpayers urged to get on payment plan to avoid name publication

Brian C. Rittmeyer
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Steve Adams | Tribune-Review
An aerial view of Tarentum. Tarentum Council has approved publicizing the names of property owners delinquent in paying their borough property taxes. Names will go on the borough’s website on May 1 unless the taxes owed are paid or the owners get on a payment plan.

Tarentum officials are hoping they won’t have to publish the names of property owners delinquent on paying their taxes — but they’re prepared to do it.

Council has approved a resolution under which the names of those owing property taxes to the borough will be made publicly available. Property taxes that aren’t paid by the end of the year they were due are considered delinquent.

“We’re encouraging those who are delinquent to arrange a payment plan,” council President Erika Josefoski said. “That is the best way to avoid having your name published if you are unable to pay in full.

“The goal is not to embarrass people, it’s simply to collect outstanding tax money,” she said. “By having more timely payments and by reducing delinquencies, it reduces the potential of having to consider raising taxes in the future. That’s not something we even want to consider, so we’re using this as a tool to avoid having to go that route.”

The borough tax collector will report delinquent taxes to council in February each year.

While the resolution approved by council provides for publishing the names of delinquent taxpayers in the newspaper, officials said they will be placed on the borough’s website first, to avoid the cost of an advertisement.

Borough Manager Michael Nestico said the borough is owed nearly $670,000 in unpaid property taxes dating from 1978 to 2017. More than half of that amount is owed from 2013 to 2017.

Nestico could not say how many parcels or owners have past-due amounts, or what the break down is between residential, commercial and industrial properties.

“Because many of the records are hardcopies, we are working to compile them digitally on a spreadsheet,” he said.

A warning about the publication of delinquent taxpayers will be included in upcoming tax bills. Names will be posted to the borough’s website on May 1.

Nestico also said their hope is that delinquent taxpayers will step up and pay.

“Borough council recognizes that when people fail to pay property tax on time it places a burden on the remaining taxpayers,” he said. “In order to maintain a sufficient level of funding for municipal services like police protection or public works, the cost must be shared by all taxpayers of the borough, not just those who pay on time.

“Council believes that the publication may motivate some folks to make timely payments, it may remind others who have forgotten, and it will provide greater transparency to our community.”

The borough’s tax collector does offer payment plan options, Nestico said.

“If the delinquent tax is satisfied, or if a payment plan is arranged, the borough will remove names from the list,” he said.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.