This is in response to the Aug. 16 article "Is There a Better Way?" I agree with the conclusions drawn here that reassessments will happen shortly in Allegheny County. The plaintiffs' attorney, Ira Weiss, has stated that the Legislature's effort to put a moratorium on reassessments is "palpably unconstitutional."
Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. is due to convene the lawyers involved in this case to reassess the 500,000 properties in Allegheny County. Since the basis of the lawsuit was that the "changing values allow owners of properties in declining areas to pay too much and those in growing areas to pay too little," the suburban areas can expect to see their property taxes go up while the inner-city residents would see their taxes go down. Since 2002, the base year for the assessments in Allegheny County, the prices of homes in suburban areas have appreciated more than in city neighborhoods. It is an obvious inference, therefore, that the property taxes for suburban homes will rise based on rising assessments.
The state House has passed the bill to put a moratorium on court-ordered reassessments, but I don't know if the Senate will also pass this bill considering the ongoing budget impasse in Harrisburg. Under these conditions, the court-ordered reassessments seem inevitable. What remains to be seen is if, by some miracle, a statewide assessment system can be instituted to remove the inequities in how property taxes are collected before the bills for next year's taxes are mailed out.
Franklin Park Borough Councilman, Ward 3