Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Property Assessment Criteria Undergo Revision

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Property Assessment Criteria Undergo Revision

Article excerpt

Allegheny County's property reassessment in 2013 left many homeowners wondering why they ended up having to pay more in taxes than their neighbors.

In an attempt to address wide disparities in values among seemingly similar properties, Mt. Lebanon embarked on a program to appeal assessments that, using certain criteria, indicated the amounts were too low.

For 2013 and 2014, the municipality focused on properties that were purchased from 2006 through 2013, which drew criticism from the affected homeowners that not all property sales were being treated equally.

This year, Mt. Lebanon has changed the criteria in an attempt to ascertain "the most egregiously underassessed properties" regardless of the sale year, according to a fact sheet about the appeal program issued by the municipality.

The fact sheet is on the municipal website, and copies were made available during a recent meeting of Mt. Lebanon commissioners.

"Our long-term strategy was to find a way to find the most underassessed properties in the municipality, and in 2015, our strategy resulted in 26 properties that will be tax-appealed," John Bendel, commission president, said at the March 10 meeting.

"In the process that we used this year, of the 26, 80 percent of those will be properties that were purchased between 1989 and 2005. Only five of the properties would have been recent sales," he said, referring to 2014 purchases.

The greatest discrepancy in assessment versus comparable value in a single property was $356,600, and the lowest was $112,133, according to the fact sheet.

In addition to drawing criticism from the affected homeowners, the appeal program is a subject of concern for an organization that advocates for property rights.

The Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh is calling for Mt. Lebanon to establish appeal criteria that will not change annually. …

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