By Chadwick Dolgos
During the Stowe Township meeting on Sept. 14, Sto-Rox school board President Samantha Levitzki-Wright spoke to the board of commissioners about a potential proposal to forgive school taxes on abandoned properties in an effort to promote homeownership in the area.
Levitzki-Wright hopes to, “rebuild what has been neglected” in her plan to promote both the area and the Sto-Rox school district.
“Right now what I am working on is trying to rebuild our tax base and connect where we’re at,” she said.
She explained there are currently very affordable houses in McKees Rocks, but the back taxes on the properties deter potential homeowners from moving forward. “We want to get rid of some taxes and forgive those things that no one’s obviously going to pay for.”
Explaining how the proposal works, Commissioner Cheryl McDermott said, “if someone purchases an abandoned piece of property, and they acquire it most likely through a sheriff sale, the back school taxes are forgiven.”
However, not all back taxes on the properties will be forgiven.
“You do have to work with the back sewage owed,” McDermott said. She explained these issues can be taken care of very easily if you go through the Allegheny County Vacant Property Recovery Program, a program designed to acquire vacant, blighted properties and convey them to applicants who plan to reuse them.
Levitzki-Wright’s plan to promote homeownership in an effort to provide stability for the district’s children.
“I have our solicitor looking at the un-taxables, or the uncollectibles as they call it,” she said during the meeting, referring to low value properties that could be revitalized and resold.
While the district does not plan on purchasing the properties, they do hope to promote and advertise the properties at affordable costs and provide outlets to complete the necessary renovations.
There will be requirements on homeowners who buy their houses through this program.
They must still maintain their property, make yearly updates and contribute to the community.
Along with promoting homeownership, the school board president hopes to provide financial education to parents and help with credit recovery.
“Renting is humongous in our area,” she said. “It’s hard for some people to buy a house without the right resources.” She hopes that her plan will also empower better employment opportunities for parents in the district.
While there is currently no official proposal, Levitzki-Wright is looking into setting up workshops and getting everyone up to speed. She also wants to start getting parents interested in the idea of becoming homeowners in the area.
“I really want to do a meeting with our parents as far as home-ownership.”