Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fitzgerald Wants End to Court-Ordered Reassessments

Allegheny County Council President Rich Fitzgerald will introduce a resolution at this evening's session that calls on newly inaugurated Governor Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania legislature to pass a bill declaring a moratorium on court-ordered reassessments.
Allegheny County is under a court order to end its 2003 base year assessment process and completely reassess some 550,000 properties in the county. Supporters of the base year process, including County Executive Dan Onorato, say the court order puts Allegheny County at a competitive disadvantage with other counties in the region which have not done reassessment in years...in some cases, decades.
Last year, by a vote of 196-1, the Pennsylvania House approved a bill that would have the state study the assessment system for a year and develop a statewide assessment system. During the course of the study, counties would be immune from court-ordered reassessments.
However, the Senate did not take up the measure before the legislative session ended.

"This court-ordered reassessment singles out the residents and businesses of Allegheny County, and will have a profound chilling effect on private home construction and renovation as well as economic development and business growth within the county," said Fitzgerald.

The council president says Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that doesn't have a statewide system of property assessment and that is now resulting in "one county (Allegheny) being targeted for disparate treatment. But this is an issue that, sooner or later, will affect every county in the Commonwealth."

Fitzgerald urged the General Assembly to pass the moratorium and create a uniform solution "rather than have a separate solution for each county imposed upon it by court action."
The bill will make reassessment a state responsibility and prevent property taxes from dramatically rising.

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