70th Anniversary Edition: Delinquent Tax Office Swamped by Bidders for Tax Sale Homes

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(Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in the Feb. 9, 1947 edition of the Sunday Dispatch.)

The clamor for homes has reached a crescendo in Pittston and the city delinquent tax office is feeling the pressure as preparations are made to accept bids on approximately 100 city properties owned by Luzerne County Commissioners and acquired through treasurer’s sales.

Attaches of the tax office say about 15 persons a day visit the office and plead for another opportunity to retain possession or to place a bid on a home being held by someone else.

Emerson Hawley, delinquent tax office head, said many of the owners whose homes had been sold to the County commissioners were unaware of the sale. He cited the case of an Oregon woman. Her husband died and being uneducated, she figured she did not have to pay taxes. She received tax notices but, being unable to read, destroyed them. Her home was advertised and sold in 1940 in the commissioners sale. Not knowing what happened and still thinking she was a property owner, the woman had a new roof put on the house a year ago.

Mortgage holders are the bane of the tax office, Emerson Hawley said. The holders of mortgages milked the properties for all they could, then sat back, leaving taxes accumulated, but still holding the mortgages. To overcome this, the local office plans to sell a number of properties at Sheriff’s sale.

For other 70th Anniversary stories, click here.

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