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County sells land to East Norriton for trails

Dan Clark of the Times Herald reports:

NORRISTOWN >> For $5, East Norriton purchased five parcels of land held in the county’s repository hoping to turn the empty lots into part of a trail that will eventually connect to trails in Plymouth Township and Norristown.

Montgomery County commissioners approved the sale to East Norriton at their meeting on Thursday.

“My office works very hard to be proactive and come up with a lot of ways for different levels of government to work together,” county Treasurer Jason Salus said. “To that end, several months ago we undertook an initiative whereby we notified all the surrounding property owners and school districts where parcels in the county property repository were located.”

Salus explained that repository properties are those that have gone unsold at tax sales.

“As part of that effort one of our notices went out to East Norriton Township notifying the local elected officials that there were a number of abandoned parcels, five, along the Sawmill Creek that were available for purchase,” Salus said.

Officials from East Norriton had expressed interest in the properties because they were in the process of obtaining other parcels of land for a pedestrian trail along the Sawmill Creek, Salus said.

The parcels of land are all in the flood plain and not big enough to develop on, he said.

“We’ve acquired about 20 of these properties along that stream already and we’re trying to join them all together and eventually build a trail that will connect to Norristown’s Sawmill Creek Trail that they’re in the planning process of with Montgomery County,” East Norriton Township Manager Donald Delamater said. “And in the other end connect to the Plymouth Township municipal complex trail. It would be a regional link that we’re hoping to achieve there.”

All of the land was given to residents as door prizes by movie theaters early in the 20th century. A previous article in The Reporter, a sister publication of The Times Herald, movie theaters would offer small plots of land as door prizes to encourage people to come to the movies.

However, the landowners often did not pay the taxes and did not do anything with the land. The land that ended up in the repository could not be sold at a tax sale.

“They gave these away as some kind of door prize, but then people had to pay property tax on them and it wasn’t exactly much of a gift,” commissioners’ Vice-Chairwoman Valerie Arkoosh said.

Commissioners’ Chairman Josh Shapiro commended Salus for finding a way to take the land off of the repository and for finding a good use for it.

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County Treasurer Participates in National Manufacturing Day

From the Springfield Enterprise and the Whitemarsh Enterprise:


Montgomery County Treasurer Jason Salus joined an estimated 50,000 participants across the country on October 3rd participating in National Manufacturing Day 2014. Since its inception in 2012, this nationwide event has grown exponentially. Nearly 1,600 manufacturers opened their doors to provide tours of their facilities and offer presentations about American manufacturing.

Salus, along with members of his staff, visited Montgomery County manufacturer The Rodon Group. This third-generation family business is housed at an impressive 125,000 square foot facility located in Hatfield, PA and specializes in producing high volumes of injection molded small plastic parts, including billions of parts each year for the K’NEX toy brand.

Salus also highlighted the reshoring trend of creating domestic manufacturing jobs and noted that Araten, along with President and CEO of the Reshoring Initiative Harry Moser, will be participating in the first “Montco Made” economic development conference for Montgomery County manufacturers hosted by the Montgomery County Industrial Development Authority (IDA). As a member of the IDA’s Board of Directors, Salus is helping organize the conference, which will highlight financing incentives for Montgomery County manufacturers. “I look forward to continuing this important conversation with a larger group of manufacturers and nationally-recognized leaders in reshoring as part of our ‘Montco Made’ conference next month. Working together we can create good, family-sustaining jobs and grow Montgomery County’s economy.” said Salus.

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Montgomery County raises $2.1M selling tax-delinquent properties

Dan Clark of the Times Herald reports:

After about an hour and a half of auctioning on Thursday, 33 Montgomery County properties were sold to several bidders during county treasurer’s upset real estate tax sale.

Including transfer tax the new property owners had to pay, the county brought in $2,121,021.20 from Thursday’s sale. Typically, a large portion of the money that comes in from the sale goes the school district the property owes taxes to. The rest of money, most often, is split evenly between the municipality or borough of the property and the county.

According to Salus, 1,294 homes were on the list for Thursday’s sale. However, 1,100 of those property owners paid to take their homes off of the sale list. Salus said some came to the treasurer’s office Thursday morning before the sale to pay their back taxes. $7.4 million in unpaid taxes were taken in from the 1,100 property owners, who paid to have their property taken off of the sale list.

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Montco officials tout saving money for college

Jessica Parks of The Inquirer reports:

Montgomery County is encouraging its residents to start saving money for college this month, and it’s offering an especially sweet deal for county employees.

Employees who enroll in the state’s 529 savings plan will not have to pay the program enrollment fee, county treasurer Jason Salus said Thursday.

Salus said he’s also planning a Web seminar, open enrollment events, and, starting in January, the option of automatic paycheck deductions for county staff.

The state’s 529 Guaranteed Savings plan usually charges a $25 or $50 enrollment fee for accounts opened more than six months after a child’s birth or adoption. The 529 Investment plan has no enrollment fee. Both plans carry tax benefits.

“Nearly two-thirds of college students graduate with debt,” which is often still being repaid “long after they have completed their education,” the Montgomery County commissioners wrote in a proclamation joining Pennsylvania’s College Savings Month.

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County pension fund investments beat the market

Joseph DiStefano of The Inquirer writes about the success of Montgomery County’s new pension fund investment strategy since its implementation one year ago:

Montco’s returns for the year ended June 30, after paying fees: 16.23%.
Vs. the fund’s “portfolio specific market benchmark,” which returned 15.9%.
That’s double the pension’s “actuarial earning assumption” target of 7.5% a year, thanks mostly to the bull market in stocks.

Here’s the breakdown between the 90% of Montco pension investments indexed by Vanguard and the 10% managed by SEI:
Vanguard stocks and bonds: 16.4%; which beats the fund’s benchmark target of 16.04%.
SEI alternative investments: 16.23%; vs. benchmark 15.9%.

Montco reports a reduction in money management fees from 44 basis points (0.0044%, about $2.1 million) to a little under 18 basis points (0.0018%, approx. $880,000). Which Shapiro figures is like a savings of $1.2 million.

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Colonial School District to receive more than $100K in delinquent property taxes

Dan Clark of the Times Herald reports:

COURTHOUSE—The Colonial School District is due to receive roughly $137,000 in delinquent property taxes after the property owners of a vacant Whitemarsh Township property agreed to pay the taxes rather than have the property go up for auction.

The owners of Joshua Hill, an undeveloped piece of land spanning over 11 acres in Whitemarsh Township off of Joshua Road, have been delinquent in paying property taxes since 1989, according to Montgomery County Treasurer Jason Salus. The property, an empty lot that was supposed to be developed for residential use, was slated to be sold at auction Thursday. However, on Wednesday the owners agreed to pay the back taxes in a sum on $400,000 by the end of the year.

On Wednesday, Salus said the owners have paid $200,000. If they do not pay the remaining $200,000 by Dec. 31, the property will be on the list for a judicial sale in January.

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