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Frustration in Allegheny County

by Tom Branham, Washington DC, March 2012

The $11 million reassessment in Allegheny County, PA has left many property owners frustrated and confused. Assessed values have taken a huge hike since the last reassessment in 2002. For example, values increased an average of 26% across the county's eastern suburbs. In some jurisdictions, values rose more than 145%.

 

In addition to the sticker shock over the higher values, the appeals process presents challenges. Even though the new values won't be used until 2013, appeals are this year. In addition, results of some informal appeals won't be known until after the formal appeal deadline.

 

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl acknowledged the problems saying, "The way the court-ordered reassessments have been handled has left many frustrated. Our top priority is to help residents navigate their way through this confusing process and ensure that they receive fair and accurate property assessments."

 

Flawed System

 

Many taxpayers feel this year's reassessment has overvalued some properties and undervalued others. County Councilman Matt Drozd says he has proof that the reassessment system is flawed. Drozd told public radio that he received strangely fluctuating property value changes for four identical vacant lots, numbered 203-206 on Perrysville Avenue in Pittsburgh's North Side.

 

"One parcel dropped in value by one-half, two lots tripled and the other quadrupled in value," Drozd said, noting that each property is an empty lot and all four have similar dimensions. He said, "This validates and substantiates all these complaints that we're getting across the county."

 

Important Dates

 

All taxpayers should soon have their new property assessments. The informal appeal deadline has passed for all but the northern and western suburbs. The formal appeal deadline for all jurisdictions is April 2.

 

Meanwhile, the deadline for paying this year's property taxes for a 2% discount has been extended from March 31st to May 31st. The deadline to pay taxes at face value has been extended from April 30th to July 2nd.