By Chadwick Dolgos
Citing unpaid property taxes and other concerns, a school director and a former rival candidate recently urged Stowe’s board of commissioners not to reappoint Robin Parrilla as township president in the new year.
Stowe resident Jeffrey Paul, who just lost a write-in bid to unseat Parrilla, argued during a Nov. 9 public meeting that back taxes owed by Parrilla stretching back nine years should disqualify him from township leadership.
“It just does not seem right to me that somebody can sit in an executive position, go out in the middle of the night, issue $25 citations that people are supposed to pay, when he does not make good on what he owes,” Paul said. “We’re talking thousands of dollars.”
According to tax records, Parrilla owes more than $30,000 in unpaid school, local and county taxes on his residential property dating back to 2013. Of that, $20,000 is owed to the Sto-Rox School District.
Parrilla, who has not attended a public commissioner’s meeting since Sept. 14, said during a recent interview that the unpaid taxes resulted from legal issues following the death of his parents who owned the property in question. He also said he was not until recently aware of this delinquency when word spread during the election season.
“I take full responsibility, and I will make this good,” Parilla said.
Parrilla said he moved into his parents’ home in 2015, three years after his mother’s death.
The house has remained in his parents’ estate since, largely due to conflict between him and his brother, who he hasn’t spoken with for years, according to Parilla.
Despite the billing address matching the property address on all three types of delinquent tax notices, Parrilla claims he is not aware of ever receiving a tax bill or lien notice in the mail at his current address. Allegheny County Common Pleas Court records show multiple lien notices have been sent by county, local and school authorities during the time Parilla has lived at the address.
“If I knew this and I did it on purpose, then shame on me, but I swear I didn’t have a clue,” Parrilla said.
He said he was never notified by colleagues in the township or his constituents until election season and suspects he was targeted by heavy-handed campaign tactics.
“It came to my attention during election time because somebody was spreading the word that I didn’t pay my taxes,” he said.
“It didn’t make sense to me; why wouldn’t somebody from the township tell me that?”
Township Secretary Nick Martini said tax collection is handled by third party agencies.
Tyler Kochirka, Sto-Rox school director, followed up Paul’s comments to the commissioners with his own request to strip Parrilla from leadership.
“My plea to the four of you that are moving on come January – do not put that man in some kind of position of power,” Kochirka said. “The four of you moving on need to stand up to him and you need to show this town that you do not support the bad behavior.”
Commissioners present at the meeting did not respond to either individuals’ comments.
While Vice President Darrell Chestnutt has not ruled out reappointing Parrilla, he later said he will need to see what the situation looks like when it comes time to reorganize.
“We don’t reorganize until January, so we just have to see what happens with how things get handled or if he takes care of what he has to take care of,” he said. “I’m not going to try to predict what will happen two months from now.”
Commissioner Cheryl McDermott, who previously voted to appoint Parilla as president, said she will not be voting to reappoint him come January.
“I think he needs to clear the accusations up and sit back and serve his commission as a regular board member working to better this township.”
According to Kochirka, the school board pulled Parrilla’s tax information as part of a larger effort to address delinquent school taxes in the area.
“We’re moving forward with creating an advisory board when it comes to delinquent taxes,” Parrilla said. “They’re going to develop a course of action to start targeting specific addresses that have been collecting some debts.”
Kochirka said the advisory board should be created by the end of the year, and the district expects to start targeting commercial properties that represent school-tax delinquencies at the start of 2022.
“People are going to think this is a witch hunt or that we are trying to go after one individual, but that isn’t anybody’s intention,” he said. “The intention is to say we cannot justify going after an ordinary community member if we ourselves are not paying.”
Parrilla, who has been in retirement for the past three years, said he plans to get a part-time job so that he can pay back what he owes in full.
“I owe it to this town and the school district to pay those taxes back,” he said. “I’m going to do the right thing.”
Parrilla said he paid his 2021 taxes across the board once he was made aware of the issue.
He currently plans to serve out his four-year term, but will likely not seek reelection when the term expires.
“I’ll probably not run again, because I’ll be 74,” he said. “I’m done.”