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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Montgomery County Sells Off Properties of Deadbeat Owners To Satisfy Taxes

Brad Segall of KYW Newsradio 1060 reports:

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Montgomery County, Pa. has auctioned off some properties owned by tax deadbeats in an effort to get those houses into the hands of new owners and back on the tax rolls.

The minimum bid for one house on West Indian Lane in West Norriton (top photo), was just over $2,700.   By the time the intense bidding ended, the house sold for $275,000.

“…for the properties where the owner basically and effectively walks away from them, getting them into the hands of a new owner who will pay taxes going forward and recover much of the delinquency during the sale process as possible,” explains county treasurer Jason Salus.

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MontCo Treasurer Set For Delinquent Private Sales

Joe Zlomek of The Post reports:

NORRISTOWN PA – With approval granted last month by Montgomery County commissioners, Treasurer Jason Salus said Tuesday (Aug. 5, 2014) he’s ready to conduct private sales of eligible tax-delinquent properties within the county. With proper legal guidance, Salus indicated, that may allow prospective buyers to quickly find housing bargains among abandoned parcels.

Eligible properties are those on which county taxes are owed and in arrears, and which were exhibited but not sold at the county’s “Upset Sale,” Salus said. Privately offering the parcels for sale after the general public shows no interest in them is one way “to return delinquent parcels to the tax rolls and maximize county revenue at no additional cost to taxpayers,” Salus said.

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Montco doe-hunting licenses are available

Jessica Parks of The Inquirer reports:

NORRISTOWN Doe-hunting licenses for the 2014-2015 season will be available to Pennsylvania residents starting Monday.

The application process and fee for each license, $6.70, have not changed, but Montgomery County treasurer Jason Salus said fewer licenses will be available this year.

“These licenses sell out quickly every year, and as a result of a decreased allocation across the commonwealth, this year is likely to be no different,” Salus said.

Each license allows one hunter to bag one antlerless deer. But if there are still licenses available in August, residents may apply to obtain a second or third permit.

Applications must be mailed to the Treasurer’s Office at 1 Montgomery Plaza, Sixth Floor, P.O. Box 311, Norristown, Pa. 19404.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has allocated 779,500 permits statewide, with 113,000 of those designated to Southeast Pennsylvania. Last year, only 218,640 antlerless deer were harvested statewide.

For more information on hunting licenses, visit www.pgc.state.pa.us.

Read the entire article here.

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 treasurer opens office for health insurance sign up

Margaret Gibbons of The Intelligencer reports:

Montgomery County Treasurer Jason Salus is throwing open the doors of his county office Sunday to help people enroll for health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.

None of his landlords were aware of Salus’ plan nor did he seek their OK, according to county Communications Director Frank X. Custer.

The treasurer’s office is in the county-owned One Montgomery Plaza office building across Swede Street from the county courthouse in Norristown.

One of his landlords, Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., said it was not up to him to tell Salus, a Democrat serving his first four-year term as treasurer, what he can or cannot do.

“I did not know that the treasurer was doing this,” Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., the lone Republican on the board, said Saturday night. “However, he is an elected official and, as far as I’m concerned, has access to his office at all hours of every day to carry out what he believes to be his duties.

“It is not for me as a commissioner to define for him what his duties are,” said Castor. “It is for him to use his best judgment within the bounds of his statutory powers and subject to oversight by the voters.”

Salus said he believes he is providing a “constituent service.”

He said he contacted security officials, who told him they are in the building at that time (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and “all typical safeguards are already in place.”

Some staff members, said Salus, have volunteered their time to make the office available.

Certified health navigators from the nonprofit Resources for Human Development, a Philadelphia-based social service organization, will be on hand to help residents enroll in a health insurance plan. The organization has a federal grant to provide these services.

Salus said more than 50 people already have registered to come in and sign up for health care coverage.

“I think that is fantastic,” said Salus.

The open enrollment sign-up deadline is Monday.

The county treasurer is an independently elected row officer and not subject to the jurisdiction of the county commissioners.

The treasurer is the custodian of all county funds, according to that office’s web page. Payments of county taxes and fees, state and federal grants, and other funds due the county are received and deposited by the office.

Read the entire article here.