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Fayette cemetery spared, must pay delinquent taxes

| Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Fayette County cemetery has been removed from a pending tax sale, but it remains responsible for $3,945 in back taxes, according to county tax officials.

Oak Grove Cemetery on McClellendtown Road in South Union was to be sold at Monday's tax sale, but it was pulled from the sale after a Sept. 5 hearing before the Fayette County Tax Assessment Appeals Board, said Bill Lukach, chief assessor for the county.

Lukach said the cemetery was able to show that when it was established in 1849, the state Legislature granted its tax-exempt status.

In addition, Lukach said, nonprofit or religious cemeteries are not taxed.

Lukach said the 15-acre cemetery is nearly full, and he believes that it is cared for by volunteers.

He said the appeals board granted it tax-exempt status, but that does not start until 2014.

“It won't take effect until 2014, so they would still be liable (for back taxes),” Lukach said.

The $3,945 in taxes and penalties are due for the 2011 and 2012 tax years, said Sarah Minnick, director of the county Tax Claim Bureau.

Most of the money is owed to Laurel Highlands School District. A portion is owed to the county and the township.

John Cupp, solicitor for the assessment appeals board, said it's likely each taxing entity will exonerate the back taxes.

James Higinbotham, a Uniontown attorney who represents the cemetery, was unavailable for comment.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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