By: By Frank Lewis
September 13, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn says his assistant prosecutors have brought in $722,000 in delinquent property taxes through August.
“We have either sent collection letters or we have filed foreclosures or we have filed foreclosures and sold the properties,” Kuhn said. “Some of them we have sent letters to and the people have paid the taxes or come in and entered into payment agreements.”
County Treasurer Bill Ogg told Kuhn he has had more payment agreement on taxes than they have ever had in the Treasurer’s Office.
“We’ve done well in the past, but nowhere near what we’ve done this year,” Kuhn said. “This is the first year we have had two part-time positions dedicated to that. Before we have always had one part-time.”
Kuhn was quick to give credit to the people who have made the nearly three-quarters-of-a-million dollars in collections possible.
“(Assistant prosecutors) Danielle Parker and Margaret “Maggie” Apel Miller and secretary Patty Click have really done the job,” Kuhn said. “Of course Maggie has been working primarily with the (city) Land Reutilization, but when she’s got time she’s been doing some other cases on tax foreclosures, and, of course, Danielle represents the county officeholders and officials and spends half her time doing tax foreclosures. Maggie has worked so good for the office, so later this fall I’ve got another part-time prosecutor’s vacancy on representing the township trustees, and she’s going to come on full-time and continue to do the tax collection work but also take over the duties for representing the different townships.”
Kuhn complimented Miller’s common sense approach.
“The last thing we want to do is sell someone’s property,” Kuhn said. “So she has been working with people, and if they need more time we give them more time.”
Kuhn said special revenue money is set aside for those efforts.
“That’s how they get paid,” Kuhn said. “When delinquent taxes are paid, a small percent of that gets set aside for collection efforts. That way it doesn’t come out of the General Fund.”
Kuhn said sometimes the civil division of the prosecutor’s office does not get the recognition because they are overshadowed by the criminal division.
“The civil side of what we do, in many ways, is just as important to keep the different offices of the courthouse functioning,” Kuhn said. “In addition to Danielle and Maggie, Shane Tieman represents the schools part-time and Marsha Shedroff, child support collection. The civil part of the office has really started working together, and I think the tax collections is a sign of that.”
In the meantime, the city of Portsmouth is again advertising property and houses for sale as a part of the city’s Land Reutilization program.
“These properties are three years certified tax delinquent. If there is a house on them, it has to be vacant,” Andy Gedeon, Director of Environmental Services of the City Health Department, said. “We don’t kick anybody out of the house or displace them. They have to be three years certified tax delinquent.”
Kuhn said there is a lot of dilapidated properties in the city that aren’t worth what is owed against them.
“With those that are dilapidated, we’re not collecting a whole lot of monies on them,” Kuhn said. “It’s more about trying to get those into someone’s hands that will fix them up, or tear them down, and then start paying taxes on the lot.”
Gedeon said many times people who live next to vacant lots or vacant houses have been taking the opportunity to buy the property and use it to extend their own property.
“If there is anybody that lives in Portsmouth or has property in Portsmouth and there is a vacant house or a vacant lot next to them, they can always call the Health Department at 740-353-5153, extension 8910, or they can send me an e-mail at email@example.com and inquire about the properties,” Gedeon said. “Then I’ll look into it to see if they qualify for the program. Then we’ll put it on the list and go through the process.”
Gedeon said the same process can be followed by people who look at the list of properties and are interested in purchasing one or more of them.
“They can contact me at the same number, or they can go on the website at portsmouthoh.org,” Gedeon said. “There’s an application under the Land Reutilization section. They can print that out and either mail it or bring it in to the Health Department.”
The City Health Department is located at 605 Washington St. in Portsmouth.
Gedeon said, in the approximately 2 1/2 years he has been with the Health Department, the city has sold around 17 properties last year and four this year.
“The price of the property depends on the appraised value,” Gedeon said. “We have a contract with an appraiser. They go out and they appraise the property. By law we can’t sell it for lower than the appraised value.”
Current city owned properties for sale:
419 Boundary St. - house to be torn down
411 Boundary St. - vacant lot
605 Boundary St. - vacant lot
2483 Mabert Rd. - vacant lot
1903 Mabert Rd. - vacant lot
1823 Mabert Rd. - house to be torn down
1708 Mabert Rd. - vacant lot
1706 Mabert Rd. - vacant lot
1613 Grandview Ave. - vacant lot
1302 Grandview Ave. - vacant lot
1228 Linden Ave. - vacant lot
1813 Dextder Ave. - vacant lot
5903 Farney Ave. - house to be torn down
1231 St. Patrick Ct. - house to be torn down
1235 St. Patrick Ct. - house to be torn down
1629 Seventh St. - vacant lot
2134 Seventh St. - house to be torn down
2202 Sixth St. - house to be torn down
1117 17th St. - house to be torn down
2503 Scioto Trail - vacant lot
2513 Scioto Trail - vacant lot
1305 Armstrong Place - vacant lot
1322 Armstrong Place - vacant lot
3038 Gallia St. - vacant lot
3148 Walnut St. - vacant lot
5402 Kiff St. - vacant lot
1621 Robinson Ave. - house to be torn down
1825 Robinson Ave. - vacant lot
1827 Robinson Ave. - vacant lot
1829 Robinson Ave. - vacant lot
1724 Charles St. - house is able to be rehabbed
1915 Sunrise Ave. - vacant lot
1542 Fourth St. - vacant lot
5621 Fifth St. - vacant lot
2016 Vinton Ave. - vacant lot
2911 Gallia St. - vacant lot
1542 Fourth St. - vacant lot
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.