2012-01-10


Allegheny County Councilman Matt Drozd will introduce a motion to make it much more equitable to taxpayers when appealing their reassessments

Contact:County Council
412-350-6490 office

PITTSBURGH – Emphasizing the need to make the assessment process more equitable to the property owners of Allegheny County, County Councilman will introduce the motion herein at tonight’s legislative meeting of Allegheny County.  When doing so, the councilman will note that the assessments put forth on the residents of Allegheny County are extremely unfair and do not have sound basis in most cases.  Many constituents have complained that their assessments are far out of line and due to historical sales in their immediate neighborhoods; they can find little documentation to refute their assessment.  On the other hand, those hearing the appeals do not have to offer much documentation to substantiate their appraisals.

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Bill No. ____________________

MOTION OF THE COUNCIL OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY

Urging the Allegheny County Property Assessment Appeals and Review (PAAR) Board to amend its rules to clearly establish the appeal procedures to be followed in order to ensure equity for the taxpayers in the event that comparable sales data is limited or unavailable, and to provide clear explanations of the methodology employed in setting the assessed value that is the subject of an appeal.

           WHEREAS, Allegheny County is in the midst of conducting a court-ordered Countywide reassessment;

            WHEREAS, pursuant to the terms of this court-ordered reassessment, assessed values for the City of Pittsburgh and Mount Oliver have been prepared and released to the public before assessed values for any other municipalities within the County; and 

            WHEREAS, according to published reports, the assessed values generated pursuant to the court order have created extraordinarily large changes in assessed value, and are often characterized as inaccurate by property owners; and

            WHEREAS, in some published cases, a parking space has increased in assessed value from approximately $5,000 to over $200,000, while a home for which renovation activities are only approximately 30% finished has increased from $80,000 to $430,000; and

            WHEREAS, while the cause of these inaccuracies is open for debate, the sole remedy available to the taxpayers at this time is to appeal the value placed upon their property through the court-ordered reassessment; and

            WHEREAS, during the appeal process, property owners who appeal their assessed values are entitled to “present any relevant evidence the Appellant deems appropriate to support Appellant’s opinion of value,” PAAR Board Rules and Regulations, Rule 4, §3.A., and are not entitled to any explanation regarding the methodology employed in setting the assessed value that is the subject of the appeal; and

            WHEREAS, the evidence prescribed by §3.A. often takes the form of presentations of recent sale prices for comparable properties; and

            WHEREAS, in the current real estate market, however, arms length sales transactions take place less frequently than normal, resulting in comparable sale data that is incomplete or outright unavailable; and

            WHEREAS, because the existing PAAR Board Rules and Regulations do not clearly spell out what evidence is to be deemed persuasive when comparable sale data is incomplete or unavailable, a large number of taxpayers have become confused with regard to what evidence they can or should present in the course of an appeal, while others have come to regard the appeal as a pointless endeavor in the absence of comparable sales data; and

            WHEREAS, it is the judgment of Council that this is a particularly undesirable situation in light of the large number of inaccurate assessments that may result from the continuation of the court-ordered reassessment activities, and in view of the large numbers of property owners that may therefore wish to appeal their assessed values in a timeframe that may well be far shorter than the normal appeal window, due to the court’s orders regarding the reassessment; and

            WHEREAS, while amendments to the PAAR Board Rules and Regulations are to be formulated by the Board itself and presented to the Chief Executive and Council for approval pursuant to the terms of §5-207-06.C. of the Administrative Code of Allegheny County, it is the recommendation of Council that, in view of the foregoing, the PAAR Board should, with all deliberate speed, formulate and present an amendment to its Rules and Regulations that clarifies what evidence can and should be presented by taxpayers in the course of appealing their assessed values, and that provides for a clear explanation of how a given assessed value was established to be given to property owners; and

            WHEREAS, it is the judgment of Council that such a clarification would be of profound value both as a tool for avoiding confusion with regard to the appeal process and as a means of reducing the time necessary for conducting appeals within the context of the current court-ordered reassessment;

NOW THEREFORE, IT IS MOVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY

That the Allegheny County Property Assessment Appeals and Review (PAAR) Board is hereby urged to amend its rules to clearly establish the appeal procedures to be followed in order to ensure equity for the taxpayers in the event that comparable sales data is limited or unavailable, and to provide clear explanations of the methodology employed in setting the assessed value that is the subject of an appeal.

PRIMARY SPONSOR: COUNCIL MEMBER DROZD

CO-SPONSORS:  

In Council _____________________________,  2012.

                                   Read and approved.  

___________________________________________

                                                                   Dr. Charles Martoni
                                                                  President of Council

 

Attest:  _______________________________________                    
                   Jared E. Barker
                   Allegheny County Council