Apollo-Ridge School District to list tax delinquents on website
The Apollo-Ridge School District's website will identify residents who still owe property taxes in January and haven't committed to paying them.
The school board voted, 6-0, on Monday to post the list of delinquent property owners on Jan. 1, 2015. Board members Paul King, Sharon Jaworskyj and Forrest Schultz were absent.
The list will include the names of people and entities that are delinquent in district property taxes, the years for which they owe and the amount of taxes, penalties and interest owed.
It will not include the names of people who have entered into payment plans with their respective county tax claim bureaus. The website also would be updated regularly, board member Dominick Duso said, to remove the names of those who have paid, or committed to pay, following the initial posting in January.
“There is no reason to put it out to the public the names of people who are making a real effort to pay,” Duso said. “This is a tough call. We have to show compassion to people who are struggling, but we also have a responsibility to motivate people to pay the district what they owe.”
According to Business Manager Jennie Ivory, about 12 percent of Apollo-Ridge taxpayers are late or delinquent on 757 parcels in the district. The total amount owed, she said, is about $750,000 — a figure that's comparable to about 8 mills of taxes in Armstrong County.
Board President Greg Primm said district officials expect to recoup a “significant portion” of that revenue before the list is published.
“The idea isn't to embarrass anyone,” he said. “No one is going to be included if they're making an effort to pay. They have between now and January to get on a payment plan.”
Apollo-Ridge issues property tax bills in August of each year. If they're not paid by the due date in March of the following year, they're considered late and a 10 percent penalty is added. The taxes aren't considered delinquent until the end of that year, when the local tax collectors turn their records over to the county.
Primm said district officials also will work with the Armstrong and Indiana tax claim bureaus to determine how collection efforts can be changed to reduce Apollo-Ridge's delinquency rate.
“I think that needs to be part of the process,” Primm said. “Some of their methods, I think, are somewhat antiquated. We need to judge whether they're doing everything they can to recover all the money possible for us.”
After-hours calls to the Armstrong and Indiana county tax claim bureaus on Monday were unsuccessful.
The district may repair the high school baseball field this year.
Officials said drainage issues at the field are destroying the infield and limiting the number of regular-season games that are available to the baseball team.
The board authorized administrators on Monday to collect bids for repair work on the field.
Before any proposals are written, Superintendent Matt Curci said, the district will meet with a consultant to determine the best course of action. The district will take moderate steps to mitigate the problem in October with any major repair projects taking place at the conclusion of the baseball season, he said.
“There are still a lot of areas in the district that need to be assessed before we commit to anything with the baseball field,” Curci said. “It's still too early to say what will happen. There's a lot that needs to be weighed.”
Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.