Good news for sheriff's office: Service to take over posting responsibility.
Acting Lancaster County Sheriff Mark Reese would like nothing more than to have additional deputies to help with the myriad duties tasked to his office.
The county commissioners last week voted not to hire more deputy sheriffs, but to relieve the office of a burdensome responsibility.
In turn, that is expected free up some deputies.
"It would allow us to concentrate more on the other duties we have to take care of - civil (court) services, executing warrants, providing courtroom security," Reese said. "And it's probably going to save us money on overtime."
The commissioners authorized Palmetto Posting Inc. of South Carolina to post notices on properties marked for sale by the county because real estate taxes on the lands have not been paid.
Also, Palmetto was authorized to serve notices to the owners of owner-occupied residences marked for tax sales.
According to Deb Dochat, the county's chief deputy treasurer, Lancaster County Tax Claims Bureau - the collection arm of the county treasurer's office - issues about 3,000 tax-sale notices annually, which must either be posted on properties or served to owners by deputy sheriffs.
Each notice states the property in question will be sold 30 days after it's posted, unless the owner pays the taxes owed on it.
"We don't actually sell anywhere near that many, because the owners make their payments or they make arrangements with us, but that's how many notices we typically send out," Dochat said.
Tax sales are conducted twice a year, so deputy sheriffs have to post and serve the notices within a short window prior to the sales.
Frequently, Reese said, the sheriff's office has to pay overtime to get the notices out on time.
"And it's not like we just post buildings," he said. "Sometimes we have to go out into a field and figure out which one of six or seven connected parcels is the one that has to be posted."
Under Pennsylvania real estate tax sale law, the county can appoint an entity other than the sheriff's office to post tax-sale notices.
Presently, Palmetto Posting is the only nongovernmental entity providing those services in Pennsylvania, Dochat said.
The company has contracts with eight Pennsylvania counties, including Dauphin and York.
Contracting with Palmetto is expected to cost Lancaster County nothing, Dochat said.
The company's fee of $25 per posting will be assessed to the owners of the properties being posted.