The public sale notices arrive in bright shades of yellow, green and other colors. They note that a person's property could be sold for a small fraction of its fair market value because of delinquent taxes. And they urge property owners to call their attorney, the local tax claim bureau or a lawyer referral service if they have any questions.
"We want their attention, to let them know that ... their house is going to go up for sale," said E. John Fedor, the county's director of assessment and tax claim.
York County commissioners on Wednesday approved a contract agreement with a South Carolina-based company to post tax claim notices through Dec. 31 of this year. The contract with Palmetto Posting Inc. will renew automatically unless the county submits a written notice of cancellation.
The company's presence in Pennsylvania has grown in recent years, said company representative Greg Tucker.
The company expects to work with about 20 counties in the state this year, Tucker said, including Dauphin and Lancaster counties.
Field agents for the company post public sale and other notices on people's property. Their work is also monitored remotely from South Carolina, Tucker said.
"Having all of these checks and balances has allowed us to ensure 100 percent accuracy with the process," Tucker said.
The county has contracted with the company since 2011. The company is paid a flat rate for certain services, such as $25 for each public tax sale notice.
The total cost for York County was about $83,000 for 2012. A few thousand notices were served to properties, and about 300 were put up for sale in the tax upset sale that year, Fedor said.
Fedor said using the company saves the county money.
Previously, he said the county used assessors, paid as independent contractors, for the notices. He said the rate was higher then, and the assessors had difficulty doing the work in the time frame needed.
"They ... did not have the time available to do it, and get it done, as fast as we would like," Fedor said.
Fedor also said the county paid a separate company to print out notices. The payments to Palmetto Posting include the paper and other costs.
Fedor said Wednesday that he didn't have total cost figures for the previous years when assessors were used.
The costs of serving the notices are passed on to property owners who pay their delinquent taxes, through fees, or on to the person who buys the property.
The notices cover school, municipal and county taxes.