Known, but undisclosed, knowns
The arguments certainly are not any more completed than is the legal process. It looks like Judge Wettick has ordered an update on the assessment for next week already, so it all continues. It really could be a year of assessment posts. On that point, for those who think much actually changed it may not be as it appears. The news is that the county will not attempt to oppose the progress of the reassessment. So nobody is going to jail. The timing of key milestones have been pushed out by 7 days in most cases is all. Per a new filing last week the current schedule of new assessment numbers to arrive for municipalities other than Allegheny is as follows. The numbers in the header are for subregions of the county. If it isn't clear, it means a lot more numbers are coming in the mail real real soon. Probably will be a shock for those who may read just the headlines and be thinking this process all ended. I'll lay odds most will receive the new letters and think they are "null and void" per previous.
For sure we can and will be arguing accuracy in individual or collective assessment values forever. Can we all at least agree on the issue being data transparency, openness and why we don't even know what is known. So the very first question is will the new assessment numbers reappear on the county web site anytime soon? Has anyone asked that question? Not there as I write this is all I know. Will they release a full data set or will we all have to become a county of hackers to scrape it over and over again? Best practices there.
So I just thought it might be fun to point out a news story from almost a YEAR ago. See the Trib: After reassessment, many in county could see lower taxes, by Tim Puko, February 11, 2011. And in that is a quote NOT from me (I'm going to make you follow the link to read it) that goes:
The fastest-rising values are in Pittsburgh neighborhoods, meaning people in 87 of 130 suburbs deserve to pay a lower share of county taxes,
Go figure that and tell me how it matches the public sentiment as reported. Also tell me why anything I said was 'news' in any real sense. It was all well known before it all began and there really isn't any real debate that for the majority taxes will go down with the new assessment numbers. Seriously, read the full story please. Ponder it. Think about whether any of it makes sense given the last week. I know, there are all sorts of issues with getting 'accurate' assessment values. What amazes me is that in this whole debate the folks who are clearly going to be winners thought they were losing and those clearly losing thought they were winners. Makes for some odd politics.
Since nobody seems to have asked this on the record. But does anyone know how much cost to mail out the mass mailing to everyone in the City of Pittsburgh telling them to ignore the 2012 assessment numbers. Everyone got one, so you are talking over 100 thousand pieces of mail sent out really quickly, so there must have been some rush premia on that. Someone paid that bill? Speaking of money, one of Judge Wettick's ruling yesterday was that the county could not fire the assessor, and I presume the firm that has been working on this for the county since 2002. Think he was in a good position to negotiate a decent contract? I still think this last week might have been a bit more entertaining if Ed was still on the county payroll.
Speaking of money. Has anyone added up how much money the county spent on the the 2005 assessment it threw out completely. Does anyone have the 2005 assessment numbers just to look at? Did the county get anything for whatever that $ amount works out to be.
Maybe it would be good for a little perspective. Great collection of some seriously glum looks in this photo from the November 30, 1930 Pittsburgh Press. Can you see the one almost-happy looking guy there looking up: