Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Judge Stanton Wettick ruled that the use of a base year as a means to assess properties is unconstitutional if the law does not include a mechanism to trigger a reassessment. Lawyers representing home owners argued that the law should include either a set number of years between reassessments or a specific mathematical formula to figure deviation of real home values compared to assessed values. Appellee Don Driscoll says right now property owners have no way to demand a reassessment without hiring a lawyer and filing suit. He says that is too high of a burden. Allegheny County Solicitor Mike Wojcik argues that as numbers become more “out of whack” elected officials will do the right thing and reassess to head off any litigation. However other counties in southwestern Pennsylvania are still working on base years that are more than 30 years old. It is unclear when the court would rule but if it upholds the lower court decision it would force nearly every county in the state to reassess baring action from the state legislature.