Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner announced that her office will fully examine the property assessment appeals process. A previous audit has already looked at the actual property assessment processes.
“And now, since most of the appeals are wrapped up, we’ll be looking at the appeals process,” said Wagner. “We’ll be analyzing at lots of data, but with this, we also want the involvement of the public.”
What her office is looking for are the personal experiences of those who went through the appeals process.
“We’re asking people to call our office or e-mail us and we’re also going to be rolling out a series of meetings that we’ll be having in regional locations throughout the county,” said Wagner.
But, Wagner said that County Solicitor Andrew Szefi sent a letter to her office stating the county would not take part because he believes it to be a performance audit. A letter from the controller’s attorney stated that this is not a performance audit. Still, Wagner said that will not stall the process, as all the data and files needed have been obtained.
“The reason we have that and we don’t have to rely on the Office of Property Assessment for that is because that all does become part of that Comprehensive Annual Financial Report that our accountants prepare,” said Wagner.
As for the county, a spokesperson said what was actually asked for was clarification of what Wagner intends to do. A letter sent to Wagner's office stated that what she is proposing sounds like a performance audit and asked that her office "clarify the purpose and scope" of the audit. The letter stated that it is was not "a refusal to participate in any audit or conference," but a request for more information. The county said a response has not come from the Controller's office.
Wagner said the overall goal of the audit is ensure the process from assessment to appeal is fair to all, and to highlight what was good about the process and what needs to be improved. The audit is expected to take at least three months to complete.