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KDKA Investigates: Tax Collector & Missing $ Millions

GREEN TREE (KDKA) -- It takes a lot to keep a town going. So, Green Tree became concerned when its tax receipts came up $90,000 short last summer, and then truly alarmed when the money stopped coming in completely.

"That's what led my approaching Green Tree Borough Council, and council authorizing us to file a lawsuit against the Central Tax agency," Greentree Manger David Montz.

Greentree sued the Bridgeville company they hired to collect their taxes, Central Tax Bureau – or Centax for short. They've since been joined by several counties and dozens of local municipalities who say Centax collected their taxes and never delivered the funds.

But rather than theft, investigators say it appears that Centax just took on more than it could handle.

Apparently, Centax just became overwhelmed. Tax payments came in far faster than their ability to distribute them, and municipalities say millions of dollars of uncashed checks just got stored away in boxes.

More than $40 million dollars in uncashed checks stowed away in those boxes and gathering dust; many of which were so old they could no longer be cashed.

There's a notice on their door saying the firm has been placed in receivership, meaning attorneys have been appointed to deal with the creditors and the municipalities.

On Wednesday, attorneys for those towns came here to the courtroom of Christine Ward, who is presiding over the chaos.

The Centax accounts have been turned over to another collection agency, but the records are in such disarray and it's unclear who's owed what.

While about $30 million has been paid out, there's still about $10 million more in receipts that hasn't found a home.

Greentree's been paid, but the struggling town of Sharon, for instance, still hasn't received about $200,000 Centax collected from its businesses and residents.

"The loss of that money would be very devastating as it is for many other municipalities," said Montz.

In a word, it's a mess and many towns and municipalities are waiting for it to sort itself out so they can pay their bills, and it look like they may be waiting a long time.

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