Local
5:28 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

People Scrambling to get Formal Appeals to the County on Time; Deadline Today

The deadline to file a formal appeal for property reassessments is the end of the day Monday. To accommodate an expected last minute rush, the county stationed people on downtown sidewalks to take homeowners' appeals — people like Leslie Clark from Wilkinsburg. She trekked to the County Office Building to hand-deliver her formal appeal.

"I didn't want to trust the post office to make sure it got here in time," she said.

There were a couple of green-vest clad employees accepting the appeals on the street, but Clark opted to take hers directly to the appeals office. She wasn't alone. The halls were packed with people filing their appeals and attending hearings on informal appeals that were previously filed. Clark's story isn't a unique one.

"The assessment rate they put on my house is unreasonable for the area I'm living in," she said. "Everyone I've talked to, from lawyers to other assessment type people, have said, 'That's ridiculous. Houses don't sell for that in Wilkinsburg.'"

Frank Cortazzo of Port Vue Borough handed his appeal to one of the people collecting them on the street. He and his wife are fighting their assessment, though he said he doesn't think that's the most effective way to go about addressing the overall issue.

"Our assessment went up about $9,000. Our comparable went up $30,000. I'm not sure if either house moved or got into a better neighborhood, so not quite sure how that happened, so that tells me that it's broke, so the fight is not to fight the appeal but to fight the process," said Cortazzo.

He said he'd like to see county officials and state lawmakers working to ensure the assessment process is fair and transparent, and added that so far all of the talk from leaders has been on how to fight individual assessments, rather than how to address the system.

"I would like to see our county exec, our legislators and all those people to step up and fix it, because it has to be fixed. It can't be something we continue to pass off and have a judge tell us what to do, what not to do, so that's what I'd like to see happen with the whole process," said Cortazzo.

The county has been working against the assessment process, calling it unfair, citing the numerous stories of peoples' property values shooting up while their neighbor's go down or stay the same.

More than 44,000 people filed appeals so far. The deadline for formal appeals is the end of the day Monday. Mailed forms must be postmarked with today's date, and forms can be hand-delivered to the County Office Building until 7:00 PM. There is also a town hall meeting in the auditorium of the Community College of Allegheny County from 7:00-9:00 PM Monday evening, where help in filing an appeal will be offered.