Property owner, Jeannette settle suit

City can pay him over four years

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Jeannette has reached a settlement with a local businessman that may keep the state from taking over city affairs for at least a couple of years, according to solicitor Scott Avolio.

Council recently approved a structured settlement with Frank Trigona, who in 2007 sued the city for denying him occupancy permits for two properties he owned because he owed back taxes. Mr. Trigona argued he lost income because he was denied permits for the properties.

Jeannette has been teetering on declaring itself financially distressed under Act 47 of the Pennsylvania Municipal Recovery Act, thus making way for the state to take control of city affairs.

With finances so tight, council was unsure how it would come up with the nearly $264,000 plus interest and Mr. Trigona's legal costs as ordered last month by Westmoreland County Judge Richard McCormick Jr.

Thus, Mr. Avolio approached Mr. Trigona with the hopes of reaching an agreement that would allow the city to spread payment over a period of time.

"Settling this agreement should help save the city at least another year from Act 47," Mr. Avolio stated. "I'm thinking we're staying ahead of the wolves."

Under the terms of the deal, Mr. Trigona's attorney, Robert Lightcap of Latrobe, will receive $140,000 in legal fees plus $13,200 in costs.

Mr. Trigona will receive $25,000 this year; $30,000 in 2014 and again in 2015; another $25,000 in 2016, under the court-filed settlement agreement.

The city will spend $178,000 out of this year's budget to meet the initial agreement installment.

According to Mr. Avolio, the agreement also calls for the city to forgive the $11,000 in taxes that Mr. Trigona owes on the two properties that triggered the lawsuit. The city also will not impose any taxes on Mr. Trigona's property on Clay Avenue for two years. The tax abatement is transferable to anyone who may purchase the properties during the two years, Mr. Avolio explained.

In the meantime, the money paid by the city will be deposited with Judge McCormick as two banks have filed claims against the settlement for loans that Mr. Trigona failed to repay.

According to court records, First National Bank and Dollar Bank are seeking the money for two separate loans that were issued to Mr. Trigona but were never repaid.

neigh_east - neigh_westmoreland

Linda Metz, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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