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Coaldale owed $100K in trash fees

Published January 13. 2017 11:25AM

Coaldale residents may want to check the last time they paid their trash bill.

In an effort to collect more than $100,000 worth of residents' overdue trash bills, the borough has hired a firm that specializes in collecting overdue taxes for municipalities.

Borough council officially named Portnoff Law Associates Ltd. of Norristown as an assistant solicitor on Tuesday. Portnoff's job will be collecting sanitation bills from property owners who have not paid despite repeated warnings from the borough.

Council voted 7-0 in November to hire Portnoff.

Some properties have not paid their $65 per quarter trash fee in more than a decade. The borough's trash hauler continues to collect the waste regardless.

"It's frustrating. There are people who owe $3,000. And then the borough talks about all these years of being in hard times, and you have over $100,000 of garbage bills just floating out there," council President Angela Krapf said at a recent meeting.

As an assistant solicitor, the firm will be able to put tax liens on properties of owners who are not up to date on their garbage bills. If a tax lien is placed on a property, it must be paid before that property can be sold to another owner.

"If we could collect half of what's owed to us, we could pay off our police car and old truck, cash," council member Claire Remington said.

Portnoff collects delinquent taxes for towns, school districts and counties. In our area, they successfully collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for Panther Valley School District.

In exchange for collecting the taxes, Portnoff imposes its own fees on the delinquent taxpayer. Council members said they have some concerns about the fees that Portnoff will charge, but they see no other choice to recover the money.

According to the ordinance passed in November, Portnoff can charge a minimum of $160 to review and notify the property owner. If they file a lien, they can charge an additional $250. If the matter continues in court, the fees could increase further.

"I hate to see people get these extra fees that Portnoff will be tacking on, but you have people who owe $2,000-3,000 for their garbage bill."

Coaldale provides trash collection for all single-family dwellings. It costs residents $65 per quarter, or $260 per year. For the time being, property owners will only be referred to Portnoff if they have more than $600 in outstanding tax bills, which means they haven't paid their tax bill in two and a half years.

Remington said she would have liked to have seen the borough publish the names of those behind on their garbage bills in the newspaper.

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