Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pick a number, any number

So last month I added a link there on the right to the Pittsburgh threads on the City-Data Forums site because it is a consistent source of rational discourse on lots of local topics that intersect here.  Lots of comments on assessments is what caught my recent attention.  A poster there that seems to have reliable reputation put this up today (about 4 posts down in this thread):
Old Today, 05:33 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Mt. Lebanon
256 posts, read 99,478 times
Reputation: 50
Had my hearing today. The officer - who was a nice man - whispered to me that I'll get a lower assessment but then he asked me how much I think its value is to put in the computer? i was shocked by such a question. Nobody told me they ask this. I said the price i paid when i bought it although right now i am paying for much, much less. What else could i have said? Be aware of this if you didn;t have your hearing yet.

So yes, it is psuedononymous and as such passing it on without any other corroboration begs a bit of scepticism.  Still the poster has a record there of rational posts.  The City-Data forums seem to me to be much akin to the Skyscraper forums and the PG has in the past taken notice positively of what is posted there.  Maybe that post will spur some similar poking into how the assessment appeals process is going.  If that post is even semi-accurate that that is really the level of formality in the appeals process then you have to wonder a bit.. or more than a bit about the fairness of the process.  When the appeals process is over with there will certainly be lots of quantitiative fodder to look at.   Remember that both the PG and now Tom at Blog Lebo have found.. think those under assessed homes are also being futher underassessed in appeals?  We will see. 

By the way Tom has updated his work again and really nails it.  New assessment clearly underassessed higher valued homes, but in a further post today parsing the data even more he clearly shows how the new assessment is far more equitable than the old assessment numbers.  Those are my words and I don't want to put words in his mouth but go check out his charts and clearly most properties moved closer to sales values with the new assessment values. 

So take that and again go back to the first part of this post.  We will see ex-post if the appeals process produces fairer numbers in the end, or is more a move back to the old numbers and the old inequities.

By the way... I just noticed this but look at Lehigh County's official presentation online about their reassessment process.


Anonymous BrianTH said...

Note people throw a few elbows over at City Data, but if you can look through the noise there are some very interesting discussions.

Anyway, obviously the new assessment numbers are more accurate than the old assessment numbers in Mt Lebanon as measured by fit with recent sales, and I suspect pretty much everywhere will follow. But viewing them as a tool for allocating the property tax burden, we do need to do more work to make sure they are more "fair" (in the state constitutional sense of their being a more consistent ratio of tax burden to current market value). I suspect they are, but it would be nice to formalize that.

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