PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County Dan Onorato has just a few months left as county executive and he jokes that he is leaving office just as he started it eight years ago — fighting against what he calls the unfair reassessment of Allegheny County property owners.
Speaking at the Airport Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast Friday morning, Onorato was blunt about Judge Wettick’s order to reassess property in the city of Pittsburgh first.
“But this, simply, is wrong, first of all. Now it’s being rushed,” Onorato told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano.
“There’s going be numbers where you’re not going to have the opportunity for an informal appeal. This is the wrong way to do this.”
Allegheny County — alone — is under a court order to reassess property values which Onorato says is being pushed by some school solicitors.
“Why do they want a reassessment? It is because they want revenues? That’s why. This is a backdoor tax increase.”
And the chief executive says it’s time for a statewide solution.
“In Harrisburg, the House of Representatives have passed twice, overwhelming majority in the House, to put a moratorium on court-ordered reassessments. It’s been killed twice in the Senate.
“We need it statewide. We don’t want judges making taxing policy on property assessments. We want legislators and executives doing it. We need the state to step forward. Forty-eight states get it right. Only Pennsylvania and Delaware get it wrong.”
Delano: “Where are our state senators?”
Onorato: “I don’t know the answer to that.”
So, absent a state moratorium, when can homeowners expect their reassessment letter?
“I’m not going to predict because I think there’s some battles yet to be had here and some legal arguments to be made,” says Onorato. “And hopefully Allegheny County will never get a new assessment number if we’re the only county doing it.”
Onorato says his legal team is reviewing the latest court order, which the county may appeal. He will report his strategy next week.