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School board members look into tax amnesty program

| Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, 7:35 p.m.

Some Penn Hills school board members would like to see a tax amnesty program implemented.

At the district's Oct. 21 finance committee meeting, board member Carl Barbarino, who is not seeking re-election in November, asked if it was possible to “forgive penalties and interest until March for residents, so that we can try and collect some more of this ourselves before turning it over to Maiello Brungo & Maiello.”

The Wilkins Township law firm handles delinquent tax collection for the school district.

Through Sept. 30, over the last three years, the district has been able to collect, on average, 79 percent of taxes it is owed, about $28.2 million.

Business director Richard Liberto said by Dec. 31, the district will likely bring in another $3.5 million or so.

The remaining $3.5 million to $4 million in delinquent taxes is handed over to Maiello Brungo & Maiello for collection.

For 2013, Liberto told the finance committee that the district's tax collection is down about $100,000 from this same time last year, but “our collector feels confident with where they're at, because a lot more residents are signing up for the payment plan,” he said.

Barbarino said he'd like to see some leeway on penalties and interest.

“That's what's really killing people,” he said.

Board member Heather Hoolahan, who was in attendance at the meeting, said she recalled an amnesty program instituted about five years ago.

Liberto said representatives from Maiello Brungo & Maiello would be invited to the school board's November executive session to discuss possible amnesty options.

In 2013, school district officials estimate that taxable property in Penn Hills will generate $35.5 million.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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