[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Brentwood 5-26-2015 by Ord. No. 1240. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Taxation — See Ch. 190.
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 79, Attorney Fees, adopted 4-23-2013 by Ord. No. 1213.
This chapter shall be known as the "Tax, Tax Claim, Tax Lien, Municipal Claim and Municipal Lien Attorney Fees and Servicing Charges, Expenses and Fees Ordinance."
Title search. In any enforcement proceeding, the actual cost of a title search in an amount not to exceed $300 shall constitute a reasonable expense for each title search necessary for the initiation of each proceeding and compliance with Pa.R.C.P. 3129. The sum not to exceed $60 shall constitute a reasonable expense for each bringdown or update of the title search in connection with entry of judgment, issuance of execution, listing for sale, or other action.
Editor's Note: Rule 3129 of the Rules of Civil Procedure was rescinded. Notice of the execution sale of real property is governed by Rules 3129.1, 3129.2 and 3129.3.
Actual out-of-pocket expenses in connection with any enforcement action, such as for postage, non-Sheriff's service of process, investigation of the whereabouts of interested parties and other necessary expenses shall constitute reimbursable expenses as part of each delinquent claim recovered.
Flat fee matters. The following schedule of attorney fees is hereby adopted and approved as reasonable attorney fees pursuant to Act 1 and Act 20 for all matters described, which fees shall be awarded to the municipality, its agents, counsel or assigns in each action initiated pursuant to the Act for the collection of unpaid delinquent claims. The property owner's obligation to pay the full amount of the flat fee for each phase of each action shall accrue upon the initiation of any aspect of each phase. The full amount of each flat fee for each prior phase of the proceeding shall carry over and be due on a cumulative basis together with the flat fee for each subsequent phase.
Filing of municipal claim. The sum of $180 shall constitute reasonable attorney fees for the preparation and filing of a municipal claim as defined under the Act.
Preparation and service of writ of scire facias or complaint in assumpsit as provided in the Act. The sum of $540 shall constitute reasonable attorney fees for the initiation of each proceeding and shall include preparation and filing of the praecipe for writ of scire facias or complaint in civil action (assumpsit), Sheriff's direction for service, notice pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 237.1 and the preparation and filing of the praecipe to settle and discontinue the proceeding. The above does not include:
Federal tax liens, judgments and mortgages. Where there are federal tax liens, federal judgments, federal mortgages or other record federal interests, the sum of $240 shall constitute reasonable attorney fees for all matters necessary to properly notify and serve the United States with all required additional notice and the presentation of related motions to Court.
Alternative service of legal pleadings. In the event that a special order of court is necessary to serve original process or any other pleading, notice, court order or other document, the following amounts shall constitute reasonable attorney fees as follows:
Investigation of defendant's(s') whereabouts and preparation of affidavit of diligent search: $120.
Preparation and presentation of motion for alternative service, and delivery of the order of court, along with appropriate directions to the Sheriff for service: $240.
If legal advertising is required for such alternative service, an additional sum of $130 shall constitute reasonable attorney fees for work related to preparation, placement and confirmation of such advertising.
Praecipe to reissue writ of scire facias or complaint in assumpsit. In the event a writ of scire facias or complaint in assumpsit must be reissued, the sum of $100 shall constitute reasonable attorney fees.
Amicable scire facias or consent judgment. The sum of $500 shall constitute reasonable attorney fees for the preparation, filing, monitoring and conclusion of an amicable scire facias or consent judgment, including negotiation, preparation and filing of the pleading, acceptance of service, installment payment and/or forbearance agreement and satisfaction. See 53 P.S. § 7185. The municipality may, in its sole and absolute discretion, hold the amicable scire facias or consent judgment and file only in the event of a default in the terms and conditions of the amicable scire facias or consent judgment or any related installment or forbearance agreement. If a consent judgment is entered following the filing of writ of scire facias or complaint in assumpsit, then the flat fee for entry of the consent judgment shall be the same as that amount provided for in Subsection A(4), Entry of judgment, below.
Entry of judgment. The sum of $270 shall constitute reasonable attorney fees in connection with entry of judgment, which shall include preparation and filing of the praecipe to enter judgment, notices of judgment, affidavit of nonmilitary status, and the praecipe to satisfy judgment.
Writ of execution: Sheriff's sale of property or execution upon assumpsit judgment. The sum of $840 shall constitute reasonable attorney fees for preparation of all documents necessary for each execution upon any judgment pursuant to the Act. This sum shall include the preparation and filing of the praecipe for writ of execution, all Sheriff's documents, preparation and service of notices of Sheriff's sale, staying the writ of execution, and attendance at one Sheriff's sale.
Sale pursuant to Section 31 of the Act, 53 P.S. § 7281. The sum of $840 shall constitute reasonable attorney fees for the sale of the property pursuant to Section 31 of the Act, 53 P.S. § 7281, including preparation and service of necessary documents, court appearances, attendance at sale, and preparation of proposed schedule of distribution of the proceeds realized from such sale.
Sale pursuant to Section 31.1 of the Act, 53 P.S. § 7282. The sum of $600 shall constitute reasonable attorney fees for a sale of property pursuant to Section 31.1 of the Act, 53 P.S. § 7282, including the preparation of necessary documents, service, court appearances, and the preparation of proposed Sheriff's schedule of distribution.
Installment payment agreement. The sum of $180 shall constitute reasonable attorney fees for the preparation of each written installment payment agreement and related communications and correspondence. In the event of a delay by the taxpayer in signing and returning the agreement, or noncompliance with or breach of the agreement, then except for specific actions where flat fees are specified in this policy, the hourly rates specified below shall constitute reasonable attorney fees for all time expended in efforts to conclude or enforce the agreement.
Motions. The sum of $200 shall constitute reasonable attorney fees for the preparation, filing and presentation of motions, other than for alternative service, which shall include, but are not limited to, motions to reassess damages, motions to amend caption, and motions to continue Sheriff's sale.
Multiple requests for balance due. The hourly rates specified below shall constitute reasonable attorney fees where the taxpayer or third party requests letters specifying the balance due on more than one occasion, and related communications and correspondence.
Hourly rate matters. The following schedule of attorney fees is hereby adopted and approved as reasonable attorney fees pursuant to Act 1 and Act 20, which fees shall be awarded to the municipality, its agents, counsel or assigns as compensation in all contested matters, and in all other matters not specifically referenced in § 79-3A, above, undertaken in connection with the collection of delinquent claims:
Attorneys: $190 per hour.
Paralegals: $140 per hour.
Law clerks: $110 per hour.
Each as recorded and charged in units of 1/10 of an hour for all time devoted to enforcement and collection of the municipality's delinquent claims. Counsel, whether duly employed or duly appointed by the municipality, its agents or assigns, shall not deviate from this fee schedule absent a subsequent ordinance amending the same. Hourly rate matters include, but are not limited to, any matters where any defense, objection, motion, petition or appearance is entered in any phase of any proceeding by or on behalf of any defendant or other interested party.
Required notice. The notice required by the Act, as amended, 53 P.S. § 7106, shall be provided in accordance therewith and shall be incorporated into an appropriate delinquency notice or notices sent by the municipality, its agent, counsel or assigns.
Fees to be accrued and delinquent claims to be filed. Fees shall accrue for all efforts in collection after the 30th day after the notice, or after the 10th day of any required second notice under the Act, as amended, 53 P.S. § 7106, on all accounts referred to counsel for enforcement. Fees accumulated as a result of enforced collection shall be certified by duly appointed counsel for the municipality authorized to pursue collection of delinquent claims pursuant to the Act, or by counsel for the municipality's agents or assigns and, if not collected in due course with the debt as by voluntary payment, shall be included in any delinquent claims filed on behalf of the municipality or by its agents or assigns in the course of enforcement, including any delinquent claims originally filed with the Department of Court Records, any delinquent claims filed with the Sheriff or in any other delinquent claims filed or statements provided where attorney fees are due.
The amount of fees determined as set forth above shall be added to and become part of the delinquent claim or delinquent claims in each proceeding as provided by the Act and as provided herein.
Pursuant to Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Act of May 16, 1923, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 7101, 7103 and 7106, the municipality does hereby authorize the recovery of charges, expenses and fees set forth in Subsection D below that are incurred by the municipality or charged to the municipality by the collectors retained by the municipality in connection with efforts to collect delinquent claims as a result of any person's failure to promptly pay delinquent claims.
The following schedule of charges, expenses and fees (hereinafter referred to as "servicing fees") is hereby approved and adopted by the municipality pursuant to Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Act of May 16, 1923, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 7101, 7103 and 7106, which amounts are the direct result of each person's or property's failure to pay delinquent claims promptly. The servicing fees established, assessed, and collected hereunder shall be in addition to the record costs, § 79-2 expenses and § 79-3 attorney fees associated with legal proceedings initiated by or on behalf of the municipality to collect its delinquent claims.
Servicing of a delinquent claim or delinquent claims may result in voluntary payment without the initiation of enforcement proceedings. It is the intent of this § 79-5 to pass the cost of servicing on to the delinquent person or property as part of each delinquent claim. The recovery of servicing fees established herein shall not be contingent upon the initiation of enforcement proceedings. However, such servicing fees are due even where enforcement proceedings are initiated. The purpose of this section is to pass the entire cost and expense associated with delinquent collection on to the delinquent person or property and to make the municipality whole on all delinquent claims collected.
Schedule. The following schedule of servicing fees shall constitute reasonable and appropriate fees for each indicated service. The servicing fees shall be added to and become part of the municipality's delinquent claims, together with the face, penalties, interest, costs and attorney fees and shall be payable in full before the discharge or satisfaction of any delinquent claim. The schedule of fees is separate and distinct from any amounts imposed by the Sheriff, Department of Court Records, Court or any other public office in connection with the collection of the municipality's delinquent claims.
Assignments: $5 per claim.
Filing tax liens: $5.50 per item.
Satisfactions: $10 per claim.
Tax claim revivals (i.e., S&A): $20 per claim.
Municipal claim revivals: $20 per claim.
Municipal claim/short title examination: $35 per claim.
Docket service fees: $1.75 per item.
Sheriff sale claim certificates: $60 per case.
Claim certificates: $10 per year.
Postage: actual cost.
Servicing, including staffing, computers, office space, telephones, equipment and materials: 10% of gross collections.
This chapter shall take effect on the date of enactment set forth below ("effective date"), and with respect to attorney fees pursuant to §§ 79-3 and 79-4 shall apply to all taxes, tax claims, tax liens, municipal claims, municipal liens, writs of scire facias, complaints in assumpsit, judgments or executions filed on or after December 19, 1990, or as otherwise provided by law.
In no event shall the municipality's right to charge and collect reasonable attorney fees pursuant to §§ 79-3 and 79-4 of this chapter be impaired by the fact that any delinquent claim may also include an attorney commission of 5% for delinquent claims filed prior to December 19, 1990. Any attorney fees assessed and collected under this chapter or any prior ordinances pursuant to Act 1 shall be in addition to any five-percent commission previously included in any delinquent claim or judgment thereon.
Attorney fees, servicing fees and out-of-pocket expenses incurred in pending enforcement proceedings prior to the effective date of this chapter, pursuant to a prior ordinance adopted under Act 1 or Act 20, but not collected, shall remain due and owing in accordance therewith, and shall be incorporated in any future statement, delinquent claim, pleading, judgment or execution. Attorney fees and expenses in any pending or new action incurred after the effective date of this chapter shall be incurred, charged and collected in accordance with the schedules and procedures set forth in this chapter.
The municipality assigns the provisions of this chapter to any assignee of its delinquent claims unless the assignment limits the assignee's ability to collect such amounts. The municipality and its duly authorized agents and their counsel shall retain all rights to charge reasonable attorney fees, charges, expenses and fees in accordance with the provisions of this chapter in actions commenced under the Act and for servicing any delinquent claims retained by the municipality.
If any one or more of the provisions or terms of this chapter shall be held invalid for any reason whatsoever, then such provision or terms shall be deemed severable from the remaining provisions or terms of this chapter to the maximum extent possible and shall in no way affect the validity or enforceability of any other provisions hereof.
All prior ordinances are hereby repealed in whole or in part to the extent inconsistent herewith.