Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Tax notices going out to help buoy slow collections

by SAM KUSIC skusic@indianagazette.net on December 03, 2013 11:00 AM

BLAIRSVILLE — Hoping to get cash flows back on pace with previous years, officials are mailing reminders to Blairsville Borough residents that their property tax bills are coming due.

Such actions aren’t uncommon, but in this case, the borough’s property tax receipts are significantly lagging as compared to past years, disrupting the cash flows to the borough and Blairsville-Saltsburg School District.

Borough manager Tim Evans has said that at this point in time, the borough’s receipts are off by around $81,000 when compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, Blairsville-Saltsburg officials have said the school district’s receipts from the borough are behind by about $556,000.

Property taxes due to Indiana County from borough residents are also behind, according to county Treasurer Sandra Kirkland, but she was unable to provide a specific number.

The lagging receipts are prompting questions as to whether Blairsville tax collector Carol Tarasovich, who was appointed to the office earlier this year and later elected to a full four-year term, is adequately fulfilling her duties.

But Tarasovich has said it only stands to reason that tax receipts are behind, given the timing of her appointment to office, which came in February. She said it wasn’t until April that she was able to establish her office and send the tax bills out.

So, she said, it is unfair to compare tax receipts at this point to the same period last year because her predecessor would have had 11 months to do the job that she has seven months to do.

“Hopefully by the time we get to the end of the year we will have caught up,” Tarasovich said.

Some borough residents have complained that Tarasovich seems to be sitting on payments.

In one case, a borough resident told council that it took roughly six weeks for his payment to be deposited.

In an attempt to figure out why tax receipts might be lagging, Evans, along with Kirkland and school district officials, sat down with Tarasovich the other week to discuss the matter.

Evans said on Monday that there is not much to report about the meeting, except that officials are continuing to look in to the matter. And Eric Kocsis, the school district’s business manager, said that officials agreed to send out the reminders.

Kirkland added that she thought it was a good meeting. She said everyone who attended laid their issues on the table and made offers of help to Tarasovich, if she needed it.

Kirkland also said tax receipts are lagging throughout the county, and more properties than ever before are going up for sheriff’s sale, she said.

Tarasovich said nothing of any significance, other than the decision to send out the reminders, came out of the meeting.

She said she would like to remind Blairsville residents that taxes are due to the borough by the end of the year. After that, delinquent bills will be turned over to the county and additional fees and penalties will be assessed.

She also reminded residents who have had a change of address and may not have received a tax bill to contact her office.

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