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The Monsour 'exemption'

| Sunday, June 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

In cash-strapped Jeannette, where tax collection apparently is a selective process, owners of the crumbling Monsour Medical Center owe almost as much in back taxes — $825,000 — as the cost estimated to tear down their towering disregard.

But Jeannette's attorney, Scott Avolio, says the city won't see a dime of that money. Why? Because in seven years since the hospital closed and eventually landed on the public tax rolls, nobody in city or county government has been able to determine its legal ownership — be it the Monsour family, the hospital's former board of directors or the Monsour Medical Foundation.

So this institutionalized money pit, the largest scofflaw in a city with a delinquent tax bill totaling more than $1.6 million, gets a pass. And taxpayers who do shoulder the load will eventually get the nearly $1 million bill to raze this monstrosity, preferably before it crumbles onto Route 30 or somebody gets conked by falling debris.

This is outrageous. Under Pennsylvania's Constitution, Article VIII, Section I: “All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be levied and collected under general laws.” There's no exclusion for Jeannette — or for its many hardworking, honest residents who pay up every year.

But instead of any legal action to collect what's owed, where the full force of law clearly is warranted and long overdue, residents get excuses for the intolerable eyesore at the entrance to their city.

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