Wednesday, May 5, 2010
A bipartisan quartet of state lawmakers has proposed legislation that would shed more light on the practice of school districts spot assessing properties. School districts across the state have tried to raise property tax income by appealing assessments of individual homes after those properties sell for more than their assessed value. State Representative Tim Seip says that practice runs afoul of the state’s uniformity clause because one home on a given street may be assed using a 2009 value while another could have a value set 10, 20 or more years ago. Seip tried to have the practice outlawed last year but the governor twice vetoed the bill. Seip, two other state representatives and a state senator have introduced what Seip calls compromise legislation. Rather than outlawing the practice, it will force school districts to give a homeowner 30-days notice of an appeal and then force the school board to approve the appeal in open session. Seip says he hopes that will give property owners a chance to go before the school board and hold the board more accountable for their actions. Seip says too often school boards are delegating their taxing responsibility to non-elected solicitors and in some cases do not even know what is going on with the spot appeals. The three house bills creating the changes in different class counties were voted out of committee this week and a bill addressing all counties in the senate has not yet come up for a vote. The governor’s office has indicated the Governor Ed Rendell will sign the legislation if it is passed. Seip says he will continue to fight to outlaw the practice when a new governor is put in office.