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Stage Right, Moose lodge in Greensburg put on auction list as tax debts pile up

Jacob Tierney
| Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Greensburg's Moose Lodge is photographed on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Greensburg's Moose Lodge is photographed on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.
Stage Right in Greensburg is photographed on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Stage Right in Greensburg is photographed on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.

Two longstanding Greensburg nonprofits — Stage Right and the Moose lodge — owe thousands of dollars in back taxes, and their headquarters will be sold at auction next month unless they pay their debts.

Loyal Order of Moose 1151 on East Otterman Street and Stage Right's office building on Third Street are among hundreds of properties listed as part of the Westmoreland County's annual sale for nonpayment of delinquent taxes.

Stage Right did not pay property taxes in 2014 or 2015, according to county records. It owes $66,783.

The Moose lodge has not paid taxes since 2013 and owes $8,999, county records show.

Officials from the organizations say the taxes will be paid, in part or in full, and the properties taken off the for-sale list.

The properties were on the list as of Friday. The organizations have until the end of business hours Sept. 9 to pay.

In addition to Stage Right's back property taxes, the state and federal governments filed liens against the office building in 2014. The state lien is for $9,951 in unpaid unemployment contributions, and the federal government's is for $59,292 in unpaid payroll taxes.

Stage Right Executive Director Christine Orosz blamed the problems on a series of bureaucratic mix-ups.

When the Stage Right corporation moved to its current office building in 2013 the staff was supposed to take steps to get it taken off the tax roll.

“We thought this process was already done,” Orosz said.

In fact, it was never completed, and the taxes have been piling up, which Orosz did not realize until recently, she said.

The organization has resumed efforts to make the property tax-exempt and will negotiate payment of its back taxes to the city, school district and county before the office building is put on the auction block, she said.

As for the $59,292 in owed payroll taxes, a former employee who was in charge of that task didn't understand the process, so they went unpaid for several years, Orosz said.

“Sometimes, things happen, and the payroll thing was stupid,” she said.

Stage Right has worked out a payment plan with the federal government and is working with the state to pay off the unemployment contributions, Orosz said. Both liens are still active, according to county court records.

Despite that, Orosz said Stage Right is not in financial peril.

“We pay our bills,” she said. “Sometimes, (it's) slow, but people always get paid.”

Moose lodge administrator Vince Conforti would not discuss specifics about how the organization got into the situation.

“I'd rather not get into that. It's something that should stay in the lodge,” he said.

The organization's years-long struggle with low membership has taken a toll on its finances, Conforti said.

The lodge has 181 members. It had more than 400 members a decade ago and peaked at 3,300 in the 1950s.

“There were many factors. Business has been slow; it's just kind of an ongoing thing for an organization in Greensburg,” he said.

The taxes will be paid soon, and the lodge building will not be auctioned off, he said.

“We've been here 103 years,” Conforti said. “I think we can make another one.”

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.

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