Schuylkill County to require written real estate appraisal for tax claim private sales

Mar. 15—POTTSVILLE — Starting April 1, anyone wanting to make an offer for a private sale through the county tax claim bureau must have a written real estate appraisal.

The Schuylkill County commissioners voted unanimously for the change at Wednesday's meeting. The change does not apply to local taxing districts, land banks or municipal redevelopment authorities.

"The real estate tax sale law requires that bids approximate fair market value, regardless of the amount of taxes that are outstanding on the particular sales," said solicitor Paul J. Datte.

He said previously that when people bid on properties, others sometimes objected because the bid did not represent the fair market value of the property, "which results in court hearings."

Bids would not be accepted if they didn't comply with the requirement.

"The (property owner) would know there is fair market value to the property," Datte said.

Private sale properties are those that were available but did not sell at an upset sale. They are subject to all liens and encumbrances.

Private sale bids were halted in December 2021.

"The short version is, it benefits the owner, it benefits the county and reduces some of this litigation," commissioners Chairman Barron L. "Boots" Hetherington said of the change.

Datte said the change brings the county more into compliance with the real estate tax law.

Emergency training

The commissioners also unanimously approved submission of a grant for funding to U.S. Sens. Bob Casey Jr. and John Fetterman, Democrats, and U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-9, Dallas, for an emergency services training facility and emergency operations center.

The commissioners are requesting $2 million from the Senate and $1 million in House funding.

The facility would be at 25 Firemans Road, Ryan Twp., home of the Schuylkill County Volunteer Firefighters Association Burn Building.

County Administrator Gary R. Bender said Hailstone Economic Group, Scranton, wrote the grant application. It will be submitted this week, he said, and it could take several months to learn if the effort is successful.

The total project cost is $4.9 million. The county would be required to contribute about $500,000, which could come out of the general fund. Bender said applying for more state grants is possible.

He said the money from the federal government could come from annual allotments they get for community development.

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