FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Peter J. Daley
Daley legislation to save tax dollars
HARRISBURG, Aug. 17 – State Rep. Peter J. Daley, D-Fayette/Washington, is drafting legislation that would ensure the cost of tax-delinquent properties do not fall on the taxpayers in the county.
Daley is circulating a bill for co-sponsorship that would ensure that a county or a county tax claim bureau can’t be held liable for claims for damages against properties that are subject to tax sales.
"When a property goes up for tax sale, the county tax claim bureau becomes the trustee. The county and its agents are not the owner of record, yet in many cases, if there is an incident that involves the property, the county could be held responsible for paying for the claim," Daley said. "This means that taxpayer dollars are being spent to pay to the county’s insurance carrier that is paying for the claim. In a nutshell, everyone in the county becomes responsible for liabilities such as personal injury from, or fires at tax-delinquent properties. This certainly is not fair to taxpayers. The person who should be responsible is the owner whose name appears on the deed."
According to Daley, the role of the county tax claim bureau is to collect the back taxes on a property and to get the property back on the tax rolls.
"My legislation would remove the onus from the county and its taxpayers and place the responsibility where it belongs – on the property owner," Daley said. "One of the reasons that I decided to move forward with this legislative proposal involves a case in Washington County in which a large stone from a foundation of a tax-delinquent property rolled down a hill and struck a vehicle that was on the roadway below. The man in the vehicle was injured and sued. Even though it did not own the property, the county paid the claim because it was considered a trustee.
"When taxes are not paid on a property, it places an added burden on the rest of the taxpayers in the county. Similarly, if the county is sued because of an incident at a tax-delinquent property and pays a settlement, this extra cost will fall on the shoulders of taxpayers. Taxpayers who are paying taxes and insurances for their property should not have to pay the added cost for those who choose not to."
The proposed legislation already has received the endorsement of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.