Friday, December 30, 2011

Groundhog Day Redux

Written a decade ago, net a month, this week:

Trib: Groundhog Day in the Assessment Office. Nuff said.

On occassion I have the crazy idea of writing up the history of property assessments in Allegheny County.  It really is an interesting story with an unquenchable motif that can only be described as how not to do things right.  Then in the next moment I always say to myself, why write something that at most a dozen people will ever care to read?  So no history from me, but if you want to read one seminal piece check out what was called the Jaffurs' report of 1976

I guess we may have made some progress.  That report observed that a large part of the property data then in use included WPA line drawings of properties.  The county was still working on incorporating the newfangled technology known as the Polaroid.

But their conclusions included this passage which might arguable be rewritten today verbatim (see the very last page in the scanned file):
In considering long range improvements to the Allegheny County assessment process a vital element is the development of a credible system wherein the property owner has access to information on how the assessor and/or the mechanical system arrived at the valuation.
That just about covers that...  but egads.  "mechanical system."??  I did once have a class on analog computing, but even that was in the context of electrical analog systems.  I have not seen a mechanical analog computer since I saw the vestiges of the fire control system built into the USS New Jersey.  No joke. Scary contraption.


Anonymous Alex B. said...

What you didn't see the movie "Big"? The county assessment office has a "Zoltan" in the corner. That's how they came up with the numbers. For each one they have to drop in a quarter.

Friday, December 30, 2011 2:12:00 AM  

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