Delinquent taxpayers hit with admin fee

Property owners who don’t pay up their real estate taxes on time will get hit with an additional fee in Susquehanna County.

The county commissioners added, by resolution at the July 14 meeting, a five percent administrative fee on delinquent real estate accounts in county.
The change goes into effect Jan. 1, 2011.
Currently, the county keeps five percent of all the taxes collected in the treasurer’s office – effectively shorting the taxing districts (school districts and municipalities) from collecting 100 percent of the revenue.
Commissioner Michael Giangrieco said the county is adding the cost and expenses onto the taxpayers themselves rather than the taxing district.
Treasurer Cathy Benedict explained that the treasurer’s office had been withholding the administrative fee from the revenue returned to the local districts.
The fee will be added to delinquent accounts turned over to the county Jan. 1.
In addition to the fee, beginning in February, interest begins to accrue on the bills. The total interest charged is .0075 percent each month the tax bill remains delinquent.
Benedict said that if a private company was hired to collect the back taxes, there was no cap on what they could charge for collection fees.
She, however, acknowledged the lure for a taxing district to go with a private firm that promised a 100 percent revenue return.
“We’re more concerned about the people we’re collecting from,” said Benedict warning some private collection companies foreclose almost immediately on delinquent properties.
The treasurer added that delinquent taxpayers now have two years before the county moves to take the property.
Giangrieco said the additional fee would be more of an incentive for people to pay taxes on time.
The treasurer and tax claim office also gained three temporary workers.
Linda Gardner, Montrose, was hired to work as a tax claim clerk from July 6 through the upset sale in September.
Sharon Stockholm, and Jeanette Jacobs-Cox were hired to work as anterless licensing processing clerks until mid-September.
The commissioners also acknowledged some personnel changes in two of the three county District Judge offices.
The resignation of Montrose District Court Office Manager Gail Shields was acknowledged with regret, effective July 13.
Mildred Fetterman, the clerk/typist in that office, was hired to replace Shields, opening up a position in that office.
In the Clifford District Court office, Dawn Brozonis was hired as a clerk/typist.
The commissioners hired Marissa Franchak, Brackney, as a part-time dispatcher in the 911 department.
Judy Hobday, Montrose, was hired to the open clerk/typist position in Children and Youth.
A part-time temporary clerk position in the 911 department was extended by the salary board to work on mapping and readdressing issues. The extension begins Aug. 1 and it will change to a union position on that date even though the job expires no later than Dec. 31.
County Commissioner MaryAnn Warren said the union insisted that with the extension the position would be union. Warren said the county may not keep extending a job that could be handled by unionized personnel.
Funds left over from a 2007 Small Cities Program allocation from the Department of Community and Economic Development were transferred by resolution.
About $7,340 of unused funds from the Microbusiness Program budget line item will be used to assist with the completion of the Oakland Borough Sanitary Sewer project.
The commissioners signed a grant agreement, dated July 1, 2010-June 30, 2015, between the Lackawanna/Susquehanna Single County Authority and the Department of Health Bureau of Drug and Alcohol programs biding the SCA to state requirements and allowing the authority to obtain state and federal funding.
The county match of the grant for the first two years is $14,292 each year. The match dollars are used to pay the providers utilized by the Lackawanna/Susquehanna Office of Drug and Alcohol prevention and intervention programs.
In years three through five of the contract, the county match will remain the same unless there is a change in state funds. Any additional county match funds would first require the approval of the commissioners.
The commissioners also signed the one-year agreements between the Lackawanna/Susquehanna Counties Mental Health and Mental Retardation Program and various service providing agencies.
Early intervention was allocated $1,545,300; Mental Health Services was allocated $7,740,000; and Mental Retardation Services were allocated $4,426,900.
Much of the $13,712,200 total is funded through federal and state monies. Lackawanna County also pays a portion of the total. Susquehanna County will pay $112,000 for the services in 2010-11.
The commissioners proclaimed July 26 as Americans with Disabilities Act Day in Susquehanna County.