Government & Politics
8:46 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Homeowners Might Get Another Chance to Challenge Assessments

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has proposed legislation that would allow property owners to appeal real estate values this year.

The county’s administrative code is currently written so that annual appeals are allowed, except for years when assessment numbers go into effect, such as this year.

Fitzgerald said it’s a matter of keeping the code constant.

“We want to give people at least the ability to do that on a once a year basis,” said Fitzgerald. “And by asking council to consider that change, that’s something that the administrative code would stay consistent with.”

Property owners already have had two chances, through informal and formal appeals, to change the new assessments. Without the legislation they would have to wait until 2014 for another appeal.

Fitzgerald said this may confuse taxing bodies, but with all the changes during the assessment process, the entire procedure has been confusing.

He said he doesn’t agree with the new assessments, calling it a “backdoor tax increase.”

“It’s a waste of money. I think there’s better money,” said Fitzgerald. “The money could be spent in other areas of needs in the county with roads, bridges, infrastructure, improving our parks, things like that. But unfortunately the law is such that we have to do this.”

Fitzgerald said, if the legislation passes, an appeal deadline would be set for April 1st of this year.

He said it will be a formal appeals process, in which a property homeowner must come before a county hearing officer and present evidence to challenge the validity of the new assessment.