City of Washington, PA
Washington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the City of Washington as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Explosives — See Ch. 148.
Reimbursement for fire and emergency services — See Ch. 163, Art. II.
Fire insurance claims — See Ch. 194.
Taxation — See Ch. 325.
[Adopted 12-16-2004 by Ord. No. 1735 (Ch. 1, Part 13, of the 1986 Code of Ordinances)]
The cost to mail a notice of delinquency, as required by Act 20 of 2003[1], will be added to the City's claim for each account as an administrative charge.
[1]
Editor's Note: See the Municipal Claims and Tax Liens Act (Act 153 of 1923, as amended by Act 20 of 2003), 53 P.S. § 7101 et seq.
A. 
The City hereby approves the following schedule of attorneys' fees for services in connection with the collection of accounts, which is hereby determined to be fair and reasonable compensation for the services set forth below, all in accordance with the principles set forth in Section 3(a.1) of the Municipal Claims Law,[1] as added by Act No. 1 of 1996, now known as "Act 20 of 2003" (the "Act"):
Legal Services
Fee for Services
Initial review and sending first demand letter
$160
File lien and mailing second demand letter
$175
Prepare writ of scire facias
$175
Obtain reissue writ
$30
Prepare and mail letter under Pa.R.C.P. § 237.1
$30
Prepare motion for alternate service
$175
Prepare default judgment
$175
Prepare writ of execution
$800
Attendance at sale; review of schedule of distribution and resolve distribution issues
$400
Handling fee for returned check
$25
Handling fee to issue refund check
$20
Services not covered above
At an hourly rate between $60 and $225, subject to approval by a majority vote of Mayor and Council by action or resolution
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 7106(a.1).
B. 
There shall be added to the above amount the reasonable out-of-pocket charges, costs, expenses, commissions and fees such as, but not limited to, postage, title searches, Prothonotary fees, Sheriff fees and a 5% commission to the Washington County Tax Claim Bureau, pursuant to the Real Estate Tax Sale Law, 72 P.S. § 5860.201 et seq.
[Amended 6-5-2014 by Ord. No. 1860]
C. 
The fees set forth above shall be added to the City's claim in each account.
The following collection procedures are hereby established in accordance with the Act:
A. 
At least 30 days prior to assessing or imposing attorneys' fees in connection with the collection of an account, the City shall mail or cause to be mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, a notice of such intention to the taxpayer or other entity liable for the account (the "property owner").
B. 
If the certified mail notice is undelivered, then, at least 30 days prior to the assessing or imposing of such attorneys' fees, the City shall mail or cause to be mailed by first class mail a second notice to the property owner.
C. 
All notices required by this article shall be mailed to the property owner's last known post office address as recorded in the records or other information of the City, or such other address as it may be able to obtain after a reasonable investigation, as provided by law.
D. 
Each notice as described above shall include the following:
(1) 
The type of tax or other charge, the date it became due and the amount owed, including penalty and interest;
(2) 
A statement of the City's intent to impose or assess attorneys' fees within 30 days after the mailing of the first notice or within 30 days after the mailing of the second notice;
(3) 
The manner in which the assessment or imposition of attorneys' fees may be avoided by payment of the account; and
(4) 
The place of payment of accounts and the name and telephone number of the City representative designated as responsible for collection matters.
E. 
In addition, notwithstanding any provision herein to the contrary, no fees or costs shall be assessed to the City, delinquent taxpayer or otherwise in the event that any claim or account is determined at any time by the City to be a hardship case, as determined by the Mayor and Council of the City or its authorized designee.
[Amended 5-8-2008 by Ord. No. 1799]
A. 
The City hereby appoints Michelle R. Portnoff, Esquire, as the City's Solicitor for the purpose of collecting delinquent real estate taxes and/or municipal claims and hereby authorizes her, and attorneys under her supervision, to sign any and all documents related to the collection of delinquent real estate claims, municipal claims, penalties, interest, fees and costs, including real estate tax claims and municipal claims, as Solicitor of the City of Washington.
B. 
Interest shall be assessed upon all taxes, tax claims and municipal claims at a rate of 10% per annum added to the tax and municipal claim.
C. 
An administrative fee, not to exceed $50, as well as all costs incurred in mailing a notice of delinquency, shall be added to the unpaid claim.
The Mayor, Councilperson serving as the Director of Accounts and Finance, and the City Treasurer are hereby authorized and empowered to take all necessary action to implement this article.
[Adopted 5-3-2012 by Ord. No. 1844]
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ACTOR
Any person, entity or business violating any ordinance of the City of Washington and/or laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which shall include, but certainly not be limited to, those laws, rules, regulations designated as the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, Title 18 Pa.C.S.A., and The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, Title 35 Pa.C.S.A. Chapter 6, in their entirety.
EXTRAORDINARY EXPENSES
Those expenses and those related costs and fees that are incurred by the City, local, state or federal department or agency, emergency services organization and from the private sector for actual costs or charges for labor, material, permits/inspections, and any other and all costs of any nature whatsoever arising from or associated with:
A. 
The use, removal and disposal of specialized extinguishing or abatement agent, chemical neutralizer or similar equipment or material that is employed to monitor, extinguish, continue, neutralize, contain, clean or remove any hazardous material that is or may be involved in a fire or released into the air, ground or water or the potential threat of any release or fire and any and all activities associated with the implementation of a protective action (i.e., evacuation) to protect the public health, safety and welfare;
B. 
Any other costs associated with the use of labor, material, supplies, and/or equipment of any and all nature whatsoever as a result of a traffic accident, fire calls, police calls, request for response or other incident which requires service, regardless of the circumstances.
C. 
"Extraordinary service" is a service performed by any City department or employee, or any public or private sector organization, agency or company, directly associated with mitigating the hazard or potential hazard or involved in providing services to implement a protective action. Extraordinary services include, but are not limited to, the abatement and disposition of hazardous materials, spills, releases, or the threat of spills or releases of hazardous materials, utility line breaks or leakages, cleanup and removal of nonhazardous materials and other imminent or perceived or potential threats to the health, safety and welfare of the public that may be detailed or contemplated in the definition of "actor" above and the attendance at any hearing, proceeding, trial, interview, investigative meeting, inquest by a City fireman and/or policemen.
D. 
"Extraordinary occurrence(s)" include but are not limited to a traffic accident, a release of hazardous materials or any type of occurrence involving the utilization of police, fire, rescue personnel, ambulance, materials, equipment and/or hazardous material equipment and/or personnel, and/or any event requiring the removal, extinguishment, cleanup of any hazardous material, fighting of a fire or a release into the air, ground or water of any potential pollution threat and any and all activities in response thereto necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare, or in connection with any fire or police response call received by the City of Washington. This definition shall also include any actor or perpetrator who it has been determined by the Court of Common Pleas after trial or hearing has violated the ordinances of the City of Washington, laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or through the agreement by the actor to a guilty plea or a plea of nolo contendere or "no contest" in said court and/or the determination or agreement of an actor a plea or agreement with said court without verdict and/or any adjudication, determination or agreement regarding a juvenile under the Pennsylvania Juvenile Laws, as well as any requestor who makes a request for response which causes a response and subsequently results in the withdrawing of charges initiated as a result of the response of any requestor who unreasonably makes multiple requests for response.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSE
Any communication to the City Police Department or Washington County 911 dispatch center, or other similar entity, indicating the possibility or existence of the occurrence of a crime or other emergency situation warranting immediate police, fire or similar emergency response or response from a City agency or department.
REQUESTOR
Any person, tenant, resident, business organization, nonprofit organization, charitable institution or organization, agent, servant or employee who makes a request for response.
RESPONSE
Any request for response which causes the City of Washington Police Department to utilize communications systems, motor vehicles and/or personnel to arrive at any place designated by the requestor or court of law having jurisdiction over the matter in which the requestor is involved.
The City Clerk of the City of Washington shall collect any and all fees and costs, as defined herein, as follows:
A. 
"Fees and costs" include, but are not limited to, any and all engineering fees, permit fees, evaluation and reevaluation costs or fees by personnel performing those evaluations, any and all labor, personnel, equipment, inventory, materials, supplies and/or maintenance expenses, cost of officers or City personnel responding to a response incurred as a result of providing extraordinary services for extraordinary occurrences.
B. 
The City Clerk shall keep a record of any and all such fees and costs and present an itemized statement of the same to the City Council for approval of the aforesaid fees and costs to be collected. Upon presentation of the amount or supplemental amounts, the City Council shall pass a resolution authorizing the City Clerk to collect the aforesaid fees and expenses. The City Council and/or City shall not be required to set forth in this article or elsewhere a specific cost or fee schedule, as the approval of the article constitutes authorization for the City to collect all such fees and costs. In the case of a response by the City Fire or Police Department, once approved by Council as set forth herein, each department shall provide an invoice to the City Clerk, who shall then invoice the actor(s) creating the requirement of a police response and/or any actor or perpetrator. The amount of the fee collected shall not and cannot be more than the hourly rate of time expended by the City in responding to the response, plus any incidental costs, fees or expenses.
C. 
Within 30 days of the date of the extraordinary or dangerous occurrence giving rise to the extraordinary service, the affected public agencies, departments or private companies shall submit bills for all extraordinary expenses incurred; within 60 days of the City Clerk's receipt of the extraordinary expenses, the City Clerk shall present the initially determined amount of the extraordinary expenses to City Council for review and approval. City Council, within 45 days of receipt of the aforesaid, shall review and approve the amount to be collected and by resolution authorize the City Clerk to submit bills for all extraordinary expenses, fees, charges, and other expenses incurred by the City to the requestor or perpetrator, or the owner of the property affected (either personal or real property), and/or the authorized agent of the owner, and/or the manager of the property, and/or the insurance company insuring the property and/or the event which required the need for the extraordinary services, with a demand that full remittance be made within 30 days of receipt.
D. 
Notwithstanding the foregoing, nothing contained herein or hereinabove shall limit the City from continuing to collect extraordinary expenses information after the initial determination. Should additional extraordinary expenses be determined to be due, the same procedure set forth above shall be followed by the City Clerk in obtaining the approval from City Council to collect the additional extraordinary expenses.
A. 
Any party failing to pay the expenses within 30 days shall, upon conviction in summary proceeding before a Magisterial District Judge, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $100 or more than $300, together with costs and, in default thereof, undergo imprisonment in the County Jail for not more than 30 days.
B. 
Imposition of the aforesaid fine and/or imprisonment shall not relieve any responsible party from civil liability to the City or the City pursuing any other legal remedies whether or not provided for herein.
C. 
Interest on the unpaid balance of any invoices of any fees shall carry an interest rate of 9% per annum on the unpaid balance. In addition, the City of Washington may assess attorneys' fees, costs and expenses associated with collection of any fees authorized by this article.
A. 
The City may enforce the provisions of this article by civil action or municipal claim in a court of competent jurisdiction for the collection of any amounts due hereunder, plus reasonable attorneys' fees or for any other relief that may be appropriate.
B. 
The City's Solicitor is hereby authorized to take such action as may be necessary to enforce the provisions of this article.
Nothing in this article shall authorize any City bureau, department or personnel or staff members to refuse or delay an emergency service to any person, firm, organization or corporation that has not reimbursed the City for those municipal services that are normally provided to the City for residents and others as a matter of the City's general operating procedure and for which the levying of taxes or the demand for reimbursement is normally made.