With no action on property tax forgiveness by Harrisburg school board, house near sinkhole goes to tax sale

HARRISBURG, Pa. – There’s mounting frustration from some leaders and residents on South 14th Street over inaction by the Harrisburg school board on whether to provide property tax forgiveness to the homeowners whose homes have been damaged by a sinkhole.

The city and Dauphin County have already provided the relief, eliminating any tax burden dating back to 2014, but the school board has held out, with some members claiming they need more information before a decision is made.

“I think it’s time that the school district give these property owners some direction as to whether or not they’re going to get some relief from that taxing authority,” Matthew Krupp, a school board member, said.

A decision will probably not come in time for one homeowner, whose delinquency on the property taxes prompted county officials to put it up for a tax sale on Monday. There’s concern someone could purchase the property in the hopes of collecting federal disaster relief funds that are reportedly on the way.

“It’s not good news for him at all, because in this case, if somebody sees it on the books and they want to buy it, that’s what’s going to happen,” Maria Vargas-Graves, a neighbor who has led the community effort to push for tax relief, said.

With no board meeting scheduled before Monday, action appears unlikely.

“There’s always a possibility that a special meeting could be called,” Krupp said. “Right now, I haven’t heard anything one way or the other.”

According to county records, the homeowner owes $3,695.71 in property tax dating back to 2013. $1,502.93 is from school tax still on the books from 2014-2016.

Neighbors say an older couple used to live in the home, but passed away in the last few years and left the home to an heir who does not live in the home.

Other homes on the block could face a similar tax sale in September.

“I think they don’t see it as a big deal maybe because it’s only one home,” Vargas-Graves said. “When we attended the last meeting that’s what they said, it was only one home, you know, it should be alright, there are so many, it’s going to be alright. But it’s not alright. You’re going to be accountable for somebody losing their home.”