Taxpayers’ Watchdog: Upper Providence Tax Collector Investigation

The Treasurer is one of the fiscal watchdogs in Montgomery County government. Independently-elected local tax collectors collect taxes for the county, our school districts and municipalities. In the middle of last year, we identified a problem local tax collector who became unresponsive and failed to file timely reports with our office. In addition, we came to understand that many taxpayers attempted to pay their taxes, but were unable to. We subsequently suspended the collector’s pay and began working with the County Controller to unravel the books and freeze her bank accounts.

While our delinquent tax collection process in that community was delayed and certain collection fees were temporarily waived, we have not become aware of any missing funds at this time. However, we will continue to remain vigilant to protect our tax dollars. Read the news coverage here.

Montco gets 11 properties back on tax rolls

Margaret Gibbons of The Intelligencer reports:

The Montgomery County treasurer’s office will be able to restore 11 properties to the tax rolls.

The properties, previously owned by tax deadbeats, were snapped up at a judicial property sale held by the treasurer’s office Tuesday at the Montgomery County Courthouse.

“The benefit of a judicial sale is that we take properties that are chronically delinquent and then, through a competitive process, get these properties into the hands of new owners who will pay taxes,” said treasurer Jason Salus.

In addition to getting the properties back on the tax rolls, the revenue generated above and beyond the administrative costs in processing each property goes back to the county, the municipality and the school district on a pro-rated basis, explained Salus.

Tuesday’s auction of the properties, which were sold “as is,” generated about $162,732 after costs were deducted, according to Salus.

Read the entire article here.

Montco to auction off properties owned by tax deadbeats

Margaret Gibbons of The Intelligencer reports:

Montgomery County is preparing to sell about 40 properties at its annual judicial real estate tax sale, according to county Treasurer Jason E. Salus.

“There can be some good investment properties, but you have to do your homework first and I can’t emphasize that enough,” said Salus.

In addition, others are no longer on the list because the owners have made arrangements to pay the back taxes owed on the parcels, according to Salus.

All the properties up for sale Tuesday have been offered in prior tax sales but weren’t sold, Salus said.

Unlike regular tax sales, when a bidder is not only responsible for back taxes but for other liens against the land, these properties are being offered free and clear of all liens, according to Salus. The minimum bid for a property offered in a judicial sale must only cover the costs of prior attempts to collect the unpaid taxes on the property, including advertising and notifications, said Salus.

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“Very effective”

Tony Fioriglio of the Times Herald reports:

According to [Norristown Area School District Chief Financial Officer Anne] Rohricht, the district was able to keep its real estate tax increase below the threshold permitted by Act 1 of 2006 through a variety of revenue sources, most notably an increase in the collection of delinquent taxes after a switch in the tax collection services offered by Montgomery County.

“The new model that the county is using has proven to be very effective for school districts like the Norristown Area School District,” Rohricht said. “We are simply very pleased with the returns that we are seeing with the county tax collection services.”

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“Dramatic increase”

Tony Fioriglio of the Times Herald reports:

NORRISTOWN — The Norristown Area School District unveiled an updated version of the 2013-14 budget that contains a smaller tax increase than originally anticipated at the school board’s final budget meeting on Monday night.

In addition to increases in real estate transfer tax, the district is projecting a dramatic increase in the collection of delinquent real estate taxes after switching to a tax collection services provided by Montgomery County.

“Last November, the school district transitioned its collections back to the Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau,” said Rohricht. “There was a lot of initial hesitation. There were some concerns about effective they would be and if they would have an impact on our cash flow. Those concerns have certainly been put to rest a few times over.”

In fact, with the county collectors in place, the district is projecting a 17 percent increase in revenue, which amounts to approximately $5.8 million, although Rohricht did say that there is a possibility that amount collected could end up surpassing $6 million.

Read the entire article here.

Real estate taxes flowing in early to Montco

Jessica Parks of the Inquirer reports:

Montgomery County Treasurer Jason Salus says real estate taxes are being paid more quickly than usual this year.

Collections through April were up 7.34 percent over last year, Salus announced Wednesday afternoon.

“We provided our Tax Collectors with the data they needed to send out their bills earlier this year than the Treasurer’s office has in previous years,” he said.

Salus said the collection rate should level out over the rest of the year, but “we certainly think there’s a benefit to collecting the revenues as early in the year as possible.”

Read the entire story here.

Montco reports huge boost in delinquent tax collections

Jessica Parks of the Inquirer reports:

Montgomery County’s shift to a new method of collecting delinquent taxes appears to be paying off.

Treasurer Jason Salus reports that collections in the first 50 days of 2013 totaled $5.7 million — a 400 percent increase over last year.

In September, the county commissioners approved a resolution to have the county Tax Claim Bureau collect all delinquent taxes on behalf of townships, boroughs and school districts. The bureau charges each taxpayer a 5 percent collection fee and 1 percent attorney’s fee.

Under the old system, many school districts and municipalities hired outside firms to collect the taxes, and the bureau received nothing for those collections. County officials argued that the bureau was losing out on millions of dollars to which it was entitled under state law.

The collection figures, which Salus said are preliminary, represent a steep increase in beginning-of-the-year payments.

“We’ve been very candid with folks that the new laws give us the ability to go to sale more quickly,” Salus said. “People have re-prioritized their bills and are now paying their taxes.”

Read the entire story here.