Margaret Gibbons of The Intelligencer reports:
Montgomery County has been losing out on revenue it says it’s legally entitled to from school districts and municipalities turning to private companies to collect delinquent real estate tax revenue, according to county Treasurer Jason E. Salus.
The county commissioners, acting on Salus’ recommendation, Thursday passed a resolution to ensure the county receives 5 percent on all delinquent tax accounts no matter who collects the money.
Salus estimated this will generate an additional $750,000 in revenue each year for the county.
Salus, who took over the reins of the county treasurer’s office in January, learned the taxing authorities using private collection firms were not turning over the 5 percent in interest and other fees the county was entitled to above and beyond the actual delinquent county tax money collected.
Many school districts and municipalities which opted for private collection agencies over the county’s tax claim bureau advised Salus the county had waived its right to that 5 percent, he said.
However, only the county commissioners have the authority to waive that money, said Chairman Josh Shapiro. No one from the county solicitor’s office or the treasurer’s office found any written waiver or any other record of such a waiver, said Shapiro.
Salus estimated the county lost about $4 million since 2004 because the money was not being turned over.
County Solicitor Ray McGarry said the county could sue these taxing authorities for the recovery of these funds but Shapiro said the commissioners do not want to waste tax dollars battling in the courts.
Also, given the current economic times and the fiscal battles every level of government is facing to hold down the bottom line, the resolution passed Thursday will enable the taxing authorities to retain 100 percent of the interest and fees collected on the delinquent taxes. Instead, an additional 5 percent fee will be added to cover the funds that have to be paid to the county.
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