The York County businessman who plans to purchase a century-old U.S. post office defended himself Friday morning against accusations from York City's business administrator, who called Themi Sacarellos "an irresponsible property owner."
Sacarellos owes the city about $100,000 in unpaid sewer and trash-collection bills, a fact that came to light after Sacarellos said earlier this week that he struck a deal with the U.S. Postal Service to purchase the 68,000-square-foot structure built circa 1911 at 200 S. George St. in York City.
While the city's concerns are "justified," Sacarellos said the criticisms are unfair and unappreciated.
Sacarellos said he's rehabilitated hundreds of York City properties, and his taxes are paid.
"I've spent millions - millions - not grant money, not public money. Private. My hard-work-my-ass-off money," he said.
Sacarellos, who conducts real-estate business as Molt LLC, has set up a payment plan with the city but is considered delinquent until the balance is paid, said city business administrator Michael O'Rourke.
The plan was established as part of an amnesty program designed by city officials who agreed to waive interest on overdue bills if property owners came forward to settle their debt during the month of April. Molt LLC wasn't the worst offender, but "they were up there pretty high," O'Rourke said.
"Their main claim to fame was that they had 37 rental properties in the city, and all of them were delinquent," he said.
While the company has agreed to the payment plan, those bills were "in dispute," Sacarellos said.
"I have the right as a citizen to dispute those bills, but I don't get anywhere," he said. "We swallowed it. They will charge you for garbage even if the unit is vacant."
O'Rourke said he has concerns about Sacarellos purchasing the post office. The sale would put the federal building in private hands for the first time, adding it to the city's property-tax roll.
But that's only a boon for the city if the property maintains its value, he said. Sacarellos said he does not have a definitive plan for the building, though he's floated a few ideas, including a bank or restaurant.
"His business plan is obviously pretty scant," O'Rourke said. "If the building is just shut down and allowed to deteriorate, it doesn't have much value and it becomes an eyesore on a major street of the city."
O'Rourke said he'd rather the building stay under federal ownership than transfer to someone who "has demonstrated himself to be an irresponsible property owner."
"At least they'll maintain it," he said.
- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or email@example.com or on Twitter @ydcity.