[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of West Mifflin as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 10-15-1996 by Ord. No. 1071 (Ch. 1, Part 12, of the 1999 Code of Ordinances)]
All municipal claims which may hereinafter be lawfully imposed, assessed or liened on any property in this commonwealth, and all such claims heretofore lawfully imposed or assessed within six months before the passage of Act 1 of 1996, said Act amending Act of May 16, 1923 (P.L. 207, No. 153), and not yet liened, in the manner and to the extent hereinafter set forth, shall be and are hereby declared to be a lien on said property, together with all charges, expenses and fees incurred in the collection of any delinquent account, including reasonable attorney fees added thereto for failure to pay promptly, and said liens shall arise when lawfully paid and satisfied out of the proceeds of any judicial sale of said property, before any other obligation, judgment, claim, lien or estate with which the said property may become charged, or for which it may become liable, save and except only the costs of the sale and of the writ upon which it is made, and the taxes imposed or assessed upon said property.
Council of the Borough of West Mifflin, from time to time, shall establish a reasonable attorney fees schedule, which shall be in an amount sufficient to compensate attorneys who undertake collection and representation of the Borough of West Mifflin in actions involving claims arising under or pursuant to the aforesaid Municipal Claims and Tax Liens Law, the Act of May 16, 1923, as amended. It is hereby established that reasonable attorney fees for collection of said municipal claims shall be set at $125 per hour, plus reimbursement of all costs incurred by said attorney for collection of the municipal claim. Cost reimbursement shall include, but not be limited to, monies advanced by the attorney for postage, filing fees, copying or reproduction of document fees, title searches or title determinations, telephone charges and facsimile charges. Facsimile costs are hereby set at $5 for the first facsimile page, which shall include the cover page, and $1 for each additional page. The hourly rate of $125 per hour, plus the amount of cost reimbursed to the attorney, which are not recoverable as court costs, shall constitute the amount of attorney fees to be assessed.
The Solicitor or any other attorney at law retained by the Borough of West Mifflin or its appointed Delinquent Tax Collector to collect tax claims or municipal claims shall be required to keep time records, together with itemized costs incurred.
At least 30 days prior to the assessing or imposing of attorney fees in connection with the collection of a delinquent municipal claim or tax, the Borough of West Mifflin, by United States certified mail, postage prepaid, shall give notice to the owner of the property as follows:
The aforesaid notice shall be mailed to the owner's last known post office address by virtue of the knowledge and information possessed by the Borough of West Mifflin and by the county office responsible for assessments and revisions of taxes.
If, within 30 days of mailing the aforesaid notice hereinafter required, the certified mail is refused or unclaimed, or the return receipt mail is refused or unclaimed, or the return receipt is not received, then, at least 10 days prior to the assessing or imposing of the attorney fees in connection with the collection of the delinquent account, the Borough of West Mifflin shall, by United States first-class mail, mail to the owner the notice hereinafter set forth.
The aforesaid notice is required to be mailed to the owner prior to the imposing or assessing of attorney fees in connection with collection of delinquent accounts, and said notice shall include the following information:
The manner in which the imposition or assessment of attorney fees may be avoided by the property owner by payment of the delinquent account.
Subsequent to the writ of scire facias, and if no affidavit of defense is filed within the time designated, judgment may be entered and damages assessed by the Prothonotary by default, for want thereof, and such assessment shall include a fee for the collection to the Borough of West Mifflin's attorney or to the plaintiff's attorney in accordance with the aforesaid Act of May 16, 1923 (P.L. 207, No. 153), referenced to as the Municipal Claims and Tax Liens Law, amended December 19, 1990 (P.L. 1092, No. 199), and as amended by Act No. 1 of 1996, which provides that when a judgment is entered for a tax claim or a municipal claim in the Prothonotary's office, the judgment entered and the damages assessed by the Prothonotary will include a fee for collection to the plaintiff's attorney.
Pursuant to the aforesaid Municipal Claims and Tax Liens Law, tax claims and municipal claims are prima facie evidence of the facts averred therein in all cases; the averments in both tax and municipal claims shall be conclusive evidence of the facts averred therein, except in the particulars in which those averments shall be specifically denied by the filing of an affidavit of defense, or an amendment thereof duly allowed. A compulsory nonsuit, upon trial, shall be equivalent to a verdict for the defendant, whether the plaintiff appears or not. If the plaintiff recovers a verdict, upon trial, in excess of the amount admitted by the defendant in his affidavit of defense or pleading, the plaintiff shall be entitled to attorney fees for collection in accordance with this article.