Property owner wants Jeannette to pay up
One of Jeannette's biggest tax scofflaws wants his money, and he wants it now, according to a filing Wednesday in Westmoreland County Court.
The attorney for Frank Trigona filed legal action seeking to force the city to pay him nearly $267,000 in damages and legal fees he won in a lawsuit against Jeannette over his rental properties.
The cash-strapped city can't afford to pay Trigona or his lawyer, Robert Lightcap of Latrobe. Officials are trying to borrow money just to meet current and future financial obligations.
“The city is not flush with cash,” said city attorney Scott Avolio.
Trigona said it's time for Jeannette to pay the money it owes him.
“When you lose, you should pay,” he said. “It's no plainer than that.”
Jeannette is trying to prevent having to seek state protection under Act 47, the Pennsylvania Distressed Municipalities Act, but the pressure from Trigona inches the city another step closer toward the financial precipice, Avolio said.
Trigona concedes that his action could push the city into state oversight.
“Something needs to push the city to get some guts to make the hard decisions,” he said. Trigona owes the city and county more than $316,000 in back taxes, making him the third largest debtor behind the former Monsour Medical Center and Jeannette Glass plant.
In addition to paying Trigona, Jeannette struggled to meet its police pension obligation, although officials say the final payment for 2012 will be made to the state by late August. But council faces another payment of more than $500,000 at the end of the year.
In addition to the city, Trigona names Mayor Robert Carter, newly appointed city treasurer Mike Nestico and council members Mark Clark, Bill Bedont, Kathie Tanyer and Dr. Mark Levander as defendants in the action.
In January, a judge ruled that Jeannette owed Trigona more than $235,000 in damages and fees for denying him occupancy permits for rental properties that he owns because Trigona owed taxes to the city. A county judge and an appeals court ruled that the city's action was illegal, and Trigona sought damages for lost rental income. Lightcap is seeking additional damages because the city has failed to satisfy the judgment. With interest on the debt, the amount is nearly $267,000, according to court documents.
According to the filing, Trigona now is owed more than $108,000 while Lightcap's fees exceed $158,000.
Lightcap filed a writ of mandamus, which allows a creditor to compel the city to pay the judgment.
Avolio said council has been trying to find the funds to pay Trigona and Lightcap, adding that Jeannette is actually a spectator in a battle between Trigona and First National Bank, which he owes money from past loans.
Trigona and the bank have been arguing over how much Trigona owes. In May, the bank garnished the lawsuit award, which prevents Trigona from receiving any money from the city.
“The city has done nothing to deny it owes that amount of money they're asking for,” Avolio said. “The suit will probably provide a road map to the city on how to resolve this case. This will have to be dealt with sooner or later.”
Jeannette is trying to negotiate a loan ranging from $900,000 to $1.5 million to get through the next two years and avoid Act 47.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at email@example.com.
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.
- 11 Ligonier Township residents rescued by boat from floodwaters
- Spirit Airlines puts Chicago on its flight path
- Unity planners OK proposal for Route 30 retail development
- Westmoreland historical society holding antiques appraisal
- Hempfield man to plead guilty to posing as policeman
- Harsh February leaves Westmoreland communities short on road salt
- Restitution payments top record in Westmoreland County
- North Huntingdon man accused of road rage altercation in Westmoreland
- West Newton ponders adding to emergency call list
- Police claim woman stabbed husband at their Jeannette business
- Auction nets $20,000 from ill-gotten gain in slaying, theft from Washington County woman