Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wondering if Wettick need not Wait?

So less than a week from the oral arguments that could reshape public finance across Pennsylvania there is little notice of the property assessment case being held in the PA Supreme Court. Why does this deserve more attention? How much news is devoted to the new revenue being brought in by casinos in the state? Property tax revenue for local governments in Pennsylvania was over $10 billion in 2002 (I'm too lazy to look up a more recent number, but I bet it's higher). This ruling could upset the core revenue source for each and every municipality/school district and the bills paid by every homeowner across the state.

Something I didn't realize and gleaned from a local real estate blog ( is that Judge Wettick's order had a clause that could force the county to conduct a mass reassessment really soon. He ordered the county to void the base year assessment system currently in place for Allegheny County and conduct annual market value assessments from here on out. However, he delayed the implementation of that order pending what was seen as almost certain legal appeals that came in due course. But he didn't delay them forever. The actual deferral comes from this language:

If all proceedings pending in the Pennsylvania courts are concluded prior to Oct. 31, 2008, property within Allegheny County for 2009 shall be assessed based on the reassessment prepared pursuant to paragraph two of this Order of Court; and even if a final order has not been entered in these proceedings property within Allegheny County for 2010 shall be assessed based on the reassessment prepared pursuant to paragraph 3 of this Order of Court. (see entry for for June 6, 2007 and emphasis added)

Paragraph 3 of the order is on page 101 (per the PDF numbering) of Judge Wettick's 119 page opinion in the case. That specific order says that

By March 31 2009 the Chief Assessment Officer of Allegheny County shall complete a computer-assisted reassessment for use in 2010.......

Soo... even if the Supreme court does not make a ruling in the next 2 months which is unlikely... the standing order in place is that new assessment numbers must be used 2010 and that a new mass reassessment needs to be completed by March 31, 2009.... this is a big project that takes more than a few months to complete. So that isn't that far in the future so you would think the county would be working hard at updating their data and running the assessment models pretty soon. I wouldn't be surprised if there are additional appeals made to defer the deferral, but as the order now stands there is an imminent assessment coming due.


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Tuesday, January 13, 2009 12:25:00 AM  

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