ShareThis Page

Jeannette School District works to bring in delinquent taxes

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

At a meeting early this year, the Jeannette School Board voted in favor of hiring the Municipal Revenue Service to aid in the recovery of delinquent tax liens.

The Municipal Revenue Service, located in McKean is a patented tax lien management program. Right now, the school board is uncertain whether the district will move forward with the company.

“They are an outside entity that takes our tax claims and issue a bond to the school district based on those numbers. You get the money from them up front,” said Superintendent Matthew Hutcheson. “The expectation is that, through their collection efforts, they will pay off the bond note, and any excess comes to us.”

The district is currently discussing all options for recovering delinquent taxes, which currently total over $800,000 for a three year period spanning 2010-13.

“Basically, we have to figure out if we are potentially able to collect the taxes ourselves, because the company, essentially, isn't doing anything extra for us,” said Hutcheson. “It caused us a little concern, because if they don't meet their collection total, we may have to pay back some of the money from the initial bond. It may not be in our best interest to use them.”

All plans are currently on hold, allowing the district's solicitor to research each option and advise the board on what may be best for the district.

Although Hutcheson said he does not keep track of the district's worst offenders, he listed Abe Zion, who owns the former Jeannette Glass plant, and Monsour, one of Jeannette's former medical centers, as two entities responsible for large portions of the outstanding taxes.

“We operate right now, based on an approximate 82 percent collection total for all taxes. Roughly $600,000 comes from family homesteads/farmsteads,” said Hutcheson. “The rest, approximately $500,000, is delinquent taxes.”

Hutcheson said the district cannot list all the reasons why families and businesses accumulate such high, unpaid tax totals.

“It's based on each individual situation,” said Hutcheson. “It could be bad revenues. Sometimes it's whatever their case happens to be on an annual basis.”

If the district were to collect 100 percent of taxes each year, it could maintain a consistent revenue. Currently, the district projects its revenue based on what they believe they will receive each year.

“The recovered taxes could be put into the district's general fund. I never project that I am going to receive 100 percent of back taxes each year,” said Hutcheson. “I start with the portion I believe I'll get and I build the budget from there. Basically, you have to make your best guess when projecting for the following year.”

Hutcheson believes that by collecting even an additional $100,000 each year, the school district would be able to add certain programs and educational items to its facilities. It could also pursue additional staffing options.

“All we're doing right now is relying on whatever comes in through the county. We don't have anyone knocking on doors for these taxes,” said Hutcheson. “We'll never have numbers that are solid. We don't know how things will change from year to year. You make a best guess and hope, at the end of the school year, you come close to breaking even.”

For more information on the school board's decision and progress, contact the superintendent's office or attend the next board meeting at 8 p.m. April 28.

Kaylie Harper is a contributing writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.