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09May

Public data gives Allegheny County towns new tools for fighting blight

By: Liz Navratil, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Published: May 7, 2017

Allegheny County municipalities can now use a new public database with tax delinquency information to guide their decisions about land banking and code enforcement.

And some think social service agencies could use the data to identify people with financial problems, ideally helping them before they lose their homes.

“I think the availability of this data in this way opens the door for a lot of good,” said An Lewis, executive director of the Steel Rivers Council of Governments, a nonprofit group of Mon Valley municipalities.

The new data was released by the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center, which is based out of the University of Pittsburgh. The center works with local agencies to publicly release their data. In this case, the center worked with the Allegheny County Department of Court Records to release more than two decades worth of information about tax lien filings. The data is currently available through March 2016, but the center hopes to eventually be able to release it on a monthly basis, said Bob Gradeck, the center’s project manager.

Before the public data release here, municipal workers in Allegheny County had to either run searches on properties one by one — which rarely happened because of time constraints — or rely on records requests they placed with the county, sometimes as infrequently as once a year.

To read more, click here.

 

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