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Highlands follows through with 8 sheriff's sales

| Monday, April 28, 2014, 1:11 a.m.

True to their word, Highlands School District officials are putting tax delinquent properties on the sheriff's sale block.

Last week, the school board unanimously approved the sheriff's sale of eight such properties.

Perhaps even more significant is the fact that the owners of the properties had all signed payment plans with the school district in order to avoid being on the list of tax delinquents published by Highlands in February.

“Of all the people on our contracts, these are the people who have broken their contracts and defaulted on their payments,” said Jon Rupert, Highlands business manager, who oversees the district's in-house delinquent real estate tax collection effort.

Rupert previously said that anyone who signs a payment plan in the district and misses payments would cause their property to be placed on the sheriff's sale list immediately.

“They will get letters now saying they have 14 days to pay,” he said. “I expect most of them if not all of them to come in because the sheriff's sale is going to add more money to it.”

In fact, if a property is put up for sheriff's sale, the $6,000 cost associated with that will be added to the total of delinquent taxes and penalties owed.

The location of the sheriff's sale properties and the names of their owners are:

• Fawn: Bonnie Hanby, Cynthia Hatajik, Todd Polliard.

• Harrison: Kenneth Barner, Katherine Shaffer (two properties).

• Tarentum: Joseph Gorsha, Monica Sebak.

The delinquent list published by Highlands and distributed as an insert to the Valley News Dispatch included about 1,000 properties.

“All the others are eligible for sheriff's sales,” Rupert said. “We can sheriff-sale all those. We'll put those on as we get more call from people who are interested.”

“If someone calls in and says ‘I will buy that property,' then we will sheriff-sale it,” he said.

Rupert said that anyone who wants to do that will have to put $6,000 down to cover the cost of the sheriff's sale. If someone does that but is then unsuccessful in bidding on the property, the $6,000 will be returned, he said.

Delinquent tax collection efforts should yield about $1 million for the 2014-15 school year, Rupert told the board.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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