Contentious Reassessment Battle Draws Near
Cato, Jason, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
A state law that led to the court-ordered property reassessment that continues to rankle home-owners in Allegheny County took center stage when 200 business and civic leaders met on Thursday in Washington County.
"It's a bad law," County Commissioner Larry Maggi said during a Washington County Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburg. "We don't want to be the last county to go under this process. We want to fight to get it changed."
The commissioners filed a Supreme Court challenge to a 2011 court ruling that ordered them to get started with a countywide reassessment. Two school districts -- McGuffey and Washington -- sued four years ago to force countywide real estate reassessments.
Common Pleas Judge Debbie O'Dell Seneca ruled in 2011 that commissioners voluntarily entered into a court-approved 2008 agreement to reassess property and need to get started.
A hearing before Seneca regarding the lawsuit is scheduled for March 19. School district attorneys could ask her to hold commissioners in contempt for not starting the reassessment process.
Maggi joked he could be jailed over the matter.
Washington County last reassessed its properties in 1981.
Spending nearly $7 million in taxpayers' money to conduct an assessment that might be outdated in three to five years is not the best way to update property values, commissioners said.
"It doesn't make sense to follow this system you know in the long run doesn't work," Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan said. "We are very competitive at keeping such a low tax rate."
That low tax rate, along with an explosion in energy investments as well as the technology, commercial, industrial, hospitality and manufacturing sectors are powering the county's economic success, commissioners said. …