Faulty data caused Munhall tax mix-up
An attorney for Legal Tax Service said the agency has yet to determine how or why delinquency notices were sent to Munhall residents who already had paid their 2012 real estate taxes.
“We're still in the process,” general counsel Donald Fetzko said on Thursday.
The agency has said that the notices were based on skewed data provided by borough tax collector Donna Mercuri's office.
The mix-up resulted in hundreds of borough residents being incorrectly notified that their taxes were past due.
Fetzko said the data provided by Mercuri created the problem, and that his company made no mistake.
“We've been spending months trying to correct the database we received from the tax collector,” Fetzko said.
Residents complained about the problem at last month's council meeting, when it was revealed 1,207 notices were sent, 416 of them to residents who proved they had paid their taxes on time.
The delinquent amount was improperly reported to be $249,060.44.
“We sent out the letters from the data that was provided,” Fetzko said. “We must have taken 600 calls.”
He said the notices informed the property owners a lien would be filed if they did not pay their taxes by July 10.
Fetzko said there may be more than 416 residents who paid their taxes, and apology letters are being sent.
Councilman Dan Lloyd said last month that penalties totaling $24,906.04, and service fees totaling $8,320.88, have to be removed.
Mercuri and other borough officials met with Legal Tax Service in April to address the mishap.
Mercuri said the problem began when she was not able to download the list of paid and unpaid tax parcels from an old computer in her office.
A flash drive, and hard copies of paid taxes and delinquencies from the flash drive, were delivered to Legal Tax Service.
Mercuri's office later sent the company an amended list. Mercuri did not return a call on Thursday afternoon seeking comment.
Lloyd brought up the delinquent tax issue at Wednesday night's workshop meeting, referencing a $3,960 bill from Legal Tax Service.
After much discussion, the bill was stricken from the list of invoices scheduled to be approved at next Wednesday's council meeting.
Council president Joe Ballas said borough solicitor Greg Evashavik will review the contract with Legal Tax Service.
Ballas said the service charged the borough an attorney rate of $90 per hour to fix the mistake.
Ballas said he spoke with Legal Tax Service prior to the workshop, and there have been no further problems.
Fetzko said Legal Tax Service has a contract with the borough, not the tax collector, and Munhall was billed accordingly.
“The bill we received was legitimate and should be paid,” Lloyd said via email on Thursday. “It was my opinion that the cost should be borne by Donna Mercuri and not the Munhall taxpayers. She caused the mistake. Mr. Ballas can argue about how much was charged, but the costs are the costs.”
Tax collector is an elected position in Munhall.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Details emerge in North Versailles drive-by shooting
- Daytime gunfire damages vehicle in McKeesport
- Golf outing wraps up successful Invitational
- Lincoln council OKs chicken coop ordinance
- New state regulations are taxing for some
- Several McKeesport party-goers arrested for hindering shooting investigation