Hundreds Take Advantage of City's Free Reassessment Help

Feb 27, 2012

66-year-old Bill Tyhurst has lived in the same South Side Slopes home for nearly his entire life. Built on Monastery Street around the turn of the century, the house has deteriorated over the decades, and Tyhurst said it could do with a thorough remodeling.

And yet, the assessed value of the house more than tripled in Allegheny County's 2012 reassessment of property values. Tyhurst said the property's estimated worth jumped from $39,900 to $128,100.

"They must have thought I flipped it or something. Evidently, nobody ever looked at it," said Tyhurst. "I just got caught in the middle, and I guess it's up to me to prove it's not worth what they say it is."

Tyhurst is one among hundreds of city residents who feel their reassessed property values are unfair, or even unbelievable. He met with a city employee Monday to peruse pictures and documents, and to build an argument for his appeal.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said more than 900 people have signed up to receive the city's free legal assistance for reassessment appeals. He said he expects many more to ask for help before the April 2 appeals deadline.

"It will take you half an hour," said Ravenstahl. "Come down and meet with a city representative who will help you through the process, answer any questions you have, offer assistance. So if you're a city resident who wants to get help, call 311 and we'll happily schedule a meeting for you and help you through the appeal process."

The legal advice meetings are taking place at various senior centers and community organizations across the city. Tyhurst's counseling session took place at the Brashear Association on the South Side.

If the appealing Pittsburgh resident wants a property appraisal conducted, the city will pay for half of the city's contracted appraisal rate of $250.

The $150,000 reassessment appeals assistance program is handled by the City Controller's office. Properties only qualify for aid if their estimated worth was less than $150,000 before reassessment; however, any resident aged 65 or older qualifies, no matter what the property value. The appealing property owner must be a city resident.