Friday, February 03, 2012

A number is not a number

It would take me an hour to parse even some of this: Fairness questioned in new assessments for eastern suburbs. Hard to skip the conclusion that it sews more confusion that it alleviates.
Again, for most all residents the issue is how their taxes change relative to their taxing body. That is all that matters to the bill they pay in the end.  So first factoid is Rankin’s notional +75% assessment increase. I kind of knew this was going to happen with a number like that. First:  No mention anywhere in the article that the so much of Rankin is a housing project or commercial valuation in some form or another.  About the extreme in the county when it comes to what portion of their land is actually made up of taxable residential property. 

Still.  +75%.  Still sounds horrible for the minority of residents in  the municipality that actually.  Does that mean those homeowners are expecting on average to see their tax bills go up some big chunk (nowhere near 75% mind you, but still an increase).  No.  The 75% is a change in total value.  Residential values went up by 59.7%. Still, that is before any tax rate change. Still odd for a municipality in such a situation yes?  Remember you are not talking big numbers here for the taxable property that is all the numbers are talking about.  Total residential value in Rankin is just $14.7 million in the NEW assessment. Smaller than any municipality in this dump other than Wall, PA which has only 560 residents... maybe a quarter of Rankin (where is Wall actually?)  Rankin residential valuation was only a total of $9.2 million in the previous assessment.  So what could have caused a $5.5 million jump?  Funny that the county says it has in just recent years spent nearly $8 million focused on housing improvements just in Rankin according to the PG's own coverage of it. I think it is more if you add up over the decade.  Seems that if you spend nearly $8 million in a community with $9.2 million in residential housing value you might not be suprised that you nominally see $5.5 million increase in assessed value.  Sort of pathological in it's way, but that is a bigger topic. Missing the forest for the trees would be the pithy way to put it. We just don't understand our own problems which gets to the real point of why we never seem to be able to solve them. 

I will skip the other 30 points that drive me nuts just scanning that. Nice that they got the data out there on the total value changes by municipality which folks need to know to understand their assessments.  Most won't get it from the county it seems, or from blogs.

You know what someone needs to do?   Create yet another county assessment web page where you can plug in your address and it gives you the aggreggage assessment changes for your property, for your municipality and your school district and then compute a first pass at how much your property tax bills will change.  Wouldn't that be helpful to a lot of people?  Again.. what most care about at the end of the day.   and the big picture question nobody wants to touch.  New assessment numbers unfair to low valued homeowners?  You bet.  Nobody wants to talk about how unfair are the current assessment number?  Funny nobody has parsed those numbers in this detail in the 6 years this assessment case has been litigated. 

Alas.. even if I could get someone to fund  that new web site.. just no time.  But someone really ought to do it.


Anonymous BrianTH said...

The problem in Rankin is going to be Woodland Hills. A 36% Briemdoza line isn't bad overall--despite the mention of Braddock in the article, it came in under that line, and so did Chalfant, East Pittsburgh, North Braddock, Turtle Creek, and Wilkins. In addition to Rankin, over the line were Braddock Hills, Churchill, Edgewood, Forest Hills, and Swissvale (which people should recall has some nice parts).

So holding aside Rankin, the Woodland Hills redistribution is more or less going to be doing what we expected (redistributing tax burden from more economically distressed munis to better-off munis). Not that we shouldn't make sure what is happening in Rankin is appropriate, but I agree the overall theme of this article was really very misleading.

Friday, February 03, 2012 8:33:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

and in virtually all cases (I have not gone line by line) the commerical valuations are above or far above the residential valuation changes they report. So the logic skipping almost always to home owners is lost.

East Pittsburgh is the extreme case. Overall value change +27%, but its residential values FELL by 6.9%.

Friday, February 03, 2012 8:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really need to get out more. Wall is in the Turtle Creek Valley bookended by Wilmerding and Pitcarin (gotta love those names, eh?) Anyway, Route 48 cuts through it on its way from 22 in the north to 30 in the south. I know that the Norfolk Southern/AGX still operates a big rail to truck intermodal transfer station down there. Which makes sense after reading the Wikis. According to them, Wall was a farm establsihed by the Walls family sometime in the murky past. Eventually, the Pennsylvania Railroad built a freight depot there and the town was incorporated around the depot.

Friday, February 03, 2012 9:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Fred SD said...

If you go to Wall, make sure to bring your knife. It's a pretty rough place. Not much going on there anyway, I'd skip the visit myself.

Friday, February 03, 2012 9:14:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

I'd rather go to the other Wall.

Friday, February 03, 2012 9:21:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I've never understood those bumper stickers.

Friday, February 03, 2012 9:22:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

What's not to understand? Wall Drug gives away bumper stickers and puts up 8,000 signs to get you to stop at Wall Drug. Which you do, because there is no where else to stop.

Friday, February 03, 2012 9:27:00 AM  
Blogger JRA said...

Is Rankin aggregate assessment increase primarily due riverfront land valuations like this?

Friday, February 03, 2012 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

That does raise an interesting question of what the news about the Carrie Furnace site redevelopment has been/is/will be?  Is this all a case of rational expectations.

Friday, February 03, 2012 1:01:00 PM  

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