District's budget boss was a tax deadbeat till our inquiry

Michael Masch, the school district's chief financial officer, owed the city more than 8 grand for back taxes, penalties, interest, etc., on his West Mount Airy home.
Michael Masch, the school district's chief financial officer, owed the city more than 8 grand for back taxes, penalties, interest, etc., on his West Mount Airy home. (FILE PHOTO: TOM GRALISH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: November 30, 2011

THE MAN in charge of the school district's budget was a tax deadbeat until Monday afternoon.

Michael Masch, the district's chief financial officer, owed back taxes from the last two years on his home in West Mount Airy, according to city records. The $8,347.93 debt included overdue property taxes, a city lien, penalties, interest and fees.

Masch paid the overdue bill after "It's Our Money" contacted him. Masch said that his wife handles the payment of the household's bills but that neither of them was aware of the back taxes until Monday. Masch's wife is the head of a local nonprofit group.

"I'm not going to make an excuse for it," Masch said. "It should have been paid on time. I appreciate your bringing it to my attention."

Masch added that he hopes he will "set an example for other taxpayers" who find out they owe back taxes.

Masch has worked for the district since 2008 and oversees its annual budget of more than $3 billion. He makes $211,600 a year. Previously, he served as the state's budget secretary under Gov. Ed Rendell.

Earlier this year, the district faced a $629 million budget shortfall, due in part to cuts by Gov. Corbett and the absence of stimulus dollars. The district is still working to plug part of that gap, which has already claimed thousands of employees and has led to other serious cuts.

Asked if he was worried that people might think it's a problem that the man in charge of the district's budget didn't have his own house in order, Masch said, "I think this is the only time that this has happened, so it's certainly not a pattern."

According to a recent Inquirer report, Philadelphia does the worst job of collecting delinquent property taxes of any major U.S. city. The city and the district are owed more than $470 million in back taxes, penalties and interest.

City records show that the "market value" of Masch's house is $118,400, and its "total assessment" is $37,888. These numbers are used to calculate his property-tax bill. But his property could possibly be undervalued: Similarly sized homes in the area have recently sold for between $190,000 and $265,000, according to real-estate website Trulia.


Holly Otterbein writes for It's Our Money, a joint project of the Daily News and WHYY funded by the William Penn Foundation, that works to shed light on where your tax dollars are going.

 

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|