Friday, January 7, 2011

Councilman Says City Property Taxes Unequal

Pittsburgh Councilman Ricky Burgess says a survey of more than 11,000 home sales between 2006 and 2010 indicates properties in many of the city's poorer neighborhoods are assessed for more than their fair market value. His survey shows in wealthier neighborhoods, such as Squirrel Hill, some homes are assessed well below their market price. He said property reassessment will help the problem of homeowners in poorer neighborhoods who pay more than their fair share of real estate taxes while sometimes receiving less services than people in more affluent communities.

Burgess says there are "two Pittsburghs," a result of raised property taxes. This has been an ongoing problem, he said, because the housing market is fluid. The last assessment was done in 2003. In seven years, there has been a difference in the prices homes are sold at. "Those differences are not accounted for in our current system. So houses that have appreciated in value significantly over the last seven years are still assessed at their very low value while houses that have depreciated in the last seven years have their higher accessed value. The accessed value is not consistent with what the true market value of what those homes are," he said.

He proposed a change in the city charter that would require all future property tax increases to be approved by voters. Council will discuss that legislation Wednesday. If passed by Council and the Mayor it would be on the ballot for the May primary election.

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