[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Swatara as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 9-10-1997 by Ord. No. 1997-3 (Ch. 1, Part 11, of the 1990 Code)]
The purposes of this article are as follows:
In order to be fair to all taxpayers in the Township, it is necessary for the Township to recover promptly the amount of delinquent unpaid taxes and other Township charges, if necessary, by legal proceedings.
In the past, the amount recovered in such proceedings has been depleted by the cost of reasonable attorney fees incurred by the Township in the proceedings and, in the case of smaller claims, making enforcement not financially feasible.
The General Assembly of Pennsylvania has enacted, as an amendment to the Municipal Claims Act, Act No. 1 of 1996 (the "Act"), 53 P.S. § 7106, which authorizes the adding of the amount of reasonable attorney fees to the total payable with respect to unpaid taxes and other municipal claims, but only if the municipality involved has approved, by ordinance, a schedule of reasonable attorney fees.
The Township has determined that it is in the best interest of all taxpayers and other residents to have vigorous enforcement of all delinquent and other unpaid charges utilizing the procedures set forth in the Act, except in the cases of serious hardship, which the Township will address on a case-by-case basis.
The Township has reviewed the subject of attorney fees for collection matters and has determined that the fees set forth in the schedule adopted are reasonable in amount for the services herein described.
The Township hereby approves the following schedule of attorney 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, as added by Act No. 1 of 1996 (the "Act"):
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 7106(a.1).
There shall be added to the above amounts the reasonable out-of-pocket expenses of counsel in connection with each of these services, as itemized in the applicable counsel bills, which shall be deemed to be part of the fees.
The amount of fees determined as set forth above shall be added to the Township's claim in each account.
The following collection procedures are hereby established in accordance with Act No. 1:
At least 30 days prior to assessing or imposing attorney fees in connection with the collection of an account, the Township 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 "account debtor").
If, within 30 days after mailing the notice in accordance with Subsection A, the certified mail to any account debtor is refused or unclaimed or the return receipt is not received, then at least 10 days prior to the assessing or imposing such attorney fees, the Township shall mail or cause to be mailed, by first class mail, a second notice to such account debtor.
All notices required by this article shall be mailed to the account debtor's last known post office address as recorded in the records or other information of the Township or such other address as it may be able to obtain from the County Office of Tax Assessment.
Each notice as described above shall include the following:
The type of tax or other charge, the date it became due and the amount owed, including penalty and interest.
A statement of the Township's intent to impose or assess attorney fees within 30 days after the mailing of the first notice or within 10 days after the mailing of the second notice.
The manner in which the assessment or imposition of attorney fees may be avoided by payment of the account.
The place of payment for accounts and the name and telephone number of the Township official designated as responsible for collection matters.
The proper officials of the Township are hereby authorized and empowered to take such additional action as they may deem necessary or appropriate to implement this article.