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Vandergrift councilman struggles to pay back taxes; owes on his home

Vandergrift Councilman Carl Petrarca has to come up with more than $5,000 in back property taxes by Sept. 11 or face losing his home at sheriff's sale.

According to the Westmoreland County Tax Claim Bureau, Petrarca owes two years worth of back taxes on his Pennsylvania Avenue home. Sept. 14 is the date set this year for the auction of properties at least two years in arrears for property taxes. Properties with taxes not paid in full or under an approved payment plan by Sept. 11 are expected to be included in the sale.

Petrarca's home is one of 11 properties he owns in three communities that were listed this year as delinquent. The total back tax bill, according to the tax claim bureau was more than $32,000.

Petrarca has paid the taxes due — nearly $27,000 — from 2007 and 2008 on nine of the 11 properties in Vandergrift, West Leechburg and Allegheny Township, a representative of the bureau said Tuesday. He still owed about $5,000 on his Pennsylvania Avenue home in Vandergrift and about $300 for a lot in Allegheny Township, the bureau said.

Asked about the matter Tuesday, Petrarca said, "I have no money."

A notice of the properties for sale appeared in the Valley News Dispatch on Aug. 5. The bureau said Petrarca paid the taxes on the nine properties on July 30.

Taxes have to be behind at least two years for a property to go up for sale.

Petrarca said he was going to pay the taxes due on the two remaining properties today.

Petrarca, 48, a Democrat in the second year of his first four-year term on council, said the parcels he owed taxes on are rental properties.

Petrarca said his being an elected official "has nothing to do with my property taxes or personal life."

"Taxes are outrageous and it's overwhelming is what it is," he said. "If you don't have the money, you can't pay the taxes."

Of the five parcels listed for sale in West Leechburg, Petrarca owed the most. His property at 1551 Main St. was to be up for sale beginning at about $18,628 before he paid about $12,944 to settle the taxes due.

West Leechburg Mayor James Gallucci said council had discussed that property. He said Petrarca is the owner.

"It doesn't look good, obviously," Gallucci said. "We are expected to be held to a bit higher standard because our lives are pretty much open to the public."

Vandergrift Mayor Louis Purificato said he saw Petrarca's properties listed in the notice, but didn't know anything more about it.

"I really have no comment on that. I don't know what the story is behind it," he said.

Council President Vernon Sciullo said he didn't know about the matter, and hadn't seen the notice.

"As long as I'm not in it ... I don't really care," he said.

Although Sciullo said the unpaid taxes are a personal problem Petrarca would have to deal with, he said he'd have to think about it now.

"That's something I would definitely have to look into and see what's what there," he said.

Additional Information:

Back bills

Vandergrift Councilman Carl Petrarca still owes back taxes on two of 11 properties he owns in the Kiski Valley, including his home in Vandergrift. Petrarca's properties and their tax status:

Vandergrift

147 Columbia Ave., paid $3,482.95.

508 Hancock Ave., paid $2,049.11.

138 California, paid $1,590.09.

201 Pennsylvania Ave., owes $5,015.71.

Lot, no address, paid $2,674.41.

West Leechburg

1551 Main St., paid $12,943.70.

Allegheny Township

Labelle Vue Road, paid $375.06.

House and lot, no address, paid $510.85.

175 Blossom Lane, paid $2,974.46.

Route 56 lot, paid $351.

Lot, no address, owes $296.12.

Source: Westmoreland County Tax Claim Bureau

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