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Thousands face liens over levee fee

March 04, 2014

JEN LEARN-ANDES
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Previous firm’s shoddy record keeping means some who paid received warnings

Luzerne County property owners should check their records if they recently received lien notices tied to Wyoming Valley Levee fee nonpayment because the mailing included some who already paid.

Lien notices have been sent to 3,811 property owners in recent weeks, officials said.

Northeast Revenue Service LLC, which handles the fee collection, is issuing the warning because the company inherited shoddy records from its now-defunct predecessor for two of the years involved in the lien notices — 2010 and 2011, said Northeast Revenue representative John Rodgers.

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New tax law will target slumlords

March 15, 2014

JEN LEARN-ANDES
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John-RodgersJohn Rodgers, president of Northeast Revenue Service LLC

Measure aims at stopping owners of multiple properties ignoring taxes on one

Owners of multiple properties in Luzerne County and elsewhere sometimes let real estate taxes slide on their less valuable holdings.

The delinquent properties won’t go to auction for 21 months, giving them time to figure out if they can or want to pay the taxes to keep them. The back taxes have no bearing on their freedom to sell or refinance other properties in good tax standing.

That’s changed with a new state law that quietly passed in November as part of an attempt to target slumlords and individuals and companies with financial means who neglect taxes on some properties.

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Bidding battles make for million-dollar tax sale

August 23, 2013

JEN LEARN-ANDES
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John Rodgers, president of Northeast Revenue Service LLC, takes bids during the county back-tax auction at the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre on Thursday morning.John Rodgers, president of Northeast Revenue Service LLC, takes bids during the county back-tax auction at the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre on Thursday morning.

Of the 223 properties up for auction, 120 were sold for a total of $998,980

An unusually high number of bidding wars jacked up prices at Thursday's popular Luzerne County back-tax auction.

“We never did this kind of business. I think it's unbelievable,” said John Rodgers, head of the county's tax claim operator, Northeast Revenue Service LLC.

Bidders snatched up 120 of the 223 listed properties, paying a combined $998,980.

In comparison, 109 properties out of 260 properties were purchased in last August's free-and-clear auction for $854,533.

Unlike Thursday's sale, the 2012 auction included a big-ticket property — the former Dominic's on the Lake restaurant at Harveys Lake, which sold for $220,000.

The highest valued property in Thursday's sale — the Keystone Garden Estates assisted-living facility in Larksville — was removed because the property owner paid $288,189 in taxes owed from 2007 through 2011.

Rodgers wasn't sure why bidding was livelier than usual Thursday but said more people seem interested in landing deals. A total 253 bidders registered.

“We attracted bidders from all over,” he said.

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Norristown Area School Board adopts 2013-14 budget

June 24, 2013

Follow Tony Fioriglio on Twitter @TheTonyFiorigli.

WEST NORRITON - The Norristown Area School Board unanimously approved the final budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year at its monthly meeting on Monday.

The budget is in the amount of $134,083,500 and sets the property tax rate at 31.744 mills, an increase of 2.69 percent.

"Tonight's budget adoption is really the culmination of hard work on everyone's part for the past nine or 10 months," Chief Financial Officer Anne Marie Rohricht said.

According to Rohricht, the district was able to keep its real estate tax increase below the threshold permitted by Act 1 of 2006 through a variety of revenue sources, most notably an increase in the collection of delinquent taxes after a switch in the tax collection services offered by Montgomery County.

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Updated budget presented by Norristown Area School District

June 6, 2013

Follow Tony Fioriglio on Twitter @TheTonyFiorigli.

NORRISTOWN - The Norristown Area School District unveiled an updated version of the 2013-14 budget that contains a smaller tax increase than originally anticipated at the school board's final budget meeting on Monday night.

The new version of the budget contains a tax increase of 2.692 percent, which is down nearly half a percent from the 3.014 percent increase that was approved when the board adopted a proposed final budget at its monthly meeting in May.

"We've been at about 3 (percent) and now we are at 2.692," explained Chief Financial Officer AnneMarie Rohricht. "Tonight's presentation is kind of a culmination of almost a year's worth of work to try to figure out how to balance the needs of our students and the needs of our community to move forward."

According to Rohricht, even with the uncertainty in both state and federal funding, the district was able to find savings from a  variety of areas, most notably increases in local revenue from several key areas.

"We've talked quite a bit about revenues this year because there are good things to talk about, which hasn't been the case for many years," Rohricht said. "The recession had a huge impact. We're finally seeing some growth, some positive results in transfer tax."

In addition to increases in real estate transfer tax, the district is projecting a dramatic increase in the collection of delinquent real estate taxes after switching to a tax collection services provided by Montgomery County.

"Last November, the school district transitioned its collections back to the Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau," said Rohricht. "There was a lot of initial hesitation. There were some concerns about effective they would be and if they would have an impact on our cash flow. Those concerns have certainly been put to rest a few times over."

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Back-tax strategy proposed in county

March 30, 2013

By Jennifer Learn-Andes This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Luzerne County’s private tax claim operator plans to pitch a plan to county officials that could increase revenue by about $1.5 million for taxing bodies and allow properties to be sold sooner if owners don’t pay real estate taxes.

The program, which tax claim operator Northeast Revenue Service LLC implemented this year in Montgomery County, would put liens on delinquent properties if owners don’t pay in full or get on payment plans by Feb. 21 or some other date chosen by the county each year.

The liens would require delinquent property owners to start paying an additional 5 percent fee to cover county tax claim operational costs — an expense currently covered by school districts and municipalities, said Northeast Revenue President John Rodgers, an area attorney. The county’s portion of this fee is waived as part of its operational agreement with Northeast Revenue.

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Northeast Revenue Service boosting Luzerne revenue

June 3, 2012

By Dave Janoski (Staff writer) This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

WILKES-BARRE - In 2010, Luzerne County privatized its Tax Claim Bureau, which collects back taxes and seizes and auctions properties for delinquent taxes, following revelations that politically connected landowners had escaped tax sales despite owing several years' worth of taxes.

The company hired to take over the bureau, Northeast Revenue Service LLC, has increased collections, boosting the county's annual revenue from back taxes and tax sales by more than 20 percent. But $16 million in delinquent county, school and municipal taxes, some dating from the 1980s, remain unpaid.

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Vacant lot near courthouse among properties in back-tax sale

March 27, 2012

City won’t reclaim $61,000 in funding used to raze buildings on site in 2004.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

vacant-lot-on-North-River-streetWilkes-Barre demolished dilapidated row homes on this North River Street property near the county courthouse in 2004. The privately owned vacant site is listed in the free-and-clear portion of the Luzerne County back-tax auction on April 12, with bids starting around $1,000.A Wilkes-Barre parcel with unpaid property taxes dating back 17 years is among 260 Luzerne County properties slated for back-taxauction on April 12.

The 0.46-acre vacant lot on North River Street near the county courthouse once housed deteriorated brick row homes demolished by the city in 2004.

Diomena Minichello had purchased the property in 1993 and started defaulting on the property taxes in 1995, county records show. Her son, Michael, inherited the property after her death in 2003, and the back-tax tab has escalated to $138,512.

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Two river islands set for free-and-clear sale

March 19, 2012

By Jennifer Learn-Andes This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

attorney-john-rodgersLuzerne County tax claim operator John Rodgers had no idea people could own Susquehanna River islands until two of them cropped up on the back-tax auction list last fall.

Constables must post properties slated for tax sale, and Rodgers’ company, Northeast Revenue Service LLC, was informed a boat would be necessary to complete the job because islands were involved.

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Bankruptcy delays property sales

August 13, 2011

Luzerne County's tax-claim agent says he's watching to make sure tax sales are not unduly hampered.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Luzerne County Reporter

Eight properties were pulled from this week’s back-tax sale in Luzerne County because the owners filed for bankruptcy.

A flurry of bankruptcy filings is common before tax sales as people try to hold onto their properties, said John Rodgers, owner of Northeast Revenue Service LLC, the county's tax-claim operator.

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