PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Blame sky rocketing property reassessments on your local school board, says Allegheny County Executive-elect Rich Fitzgerald.
“School districts went out and found cases that they wanted to drive a reassessment to try to get a backdoor tax increase to get revenues for their school districts without taking a vote,” Fitzgerald told KDKA’s Jon Delano and the Post-Gazette’s John Allison at a taping of the KD/PG Sunday Edition.
Fitzgerald: “As the politics of this starts to turn, I’m starting to hear from some school board members that they’re [saying], ‘Whoa, we might have made a mistake. Maybe we’re for a moratorium as well.’”
Delano: “Are you calling on all school boards in Allegheny County to pledge today that there be no windfall at all for their school districts?”
Fitzgerald: “I’m going to go further, Jon. I’m going to call on all school boards when we get together next week to put a halt to this.”
Fitzgerald didn’t blame the assessment office for poor assessments — like a Stanton Heights home bought just three years ago for $64,000 being assessed at a whopping $180,000.
“What the chief assessment officer told the judge was these aren’t ready, they’re not done, they’re improper, but the city school district was pushing these out the door,” says Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald repeated he will not send out reassessment letters to the rest of the county. But some letters have already been mailed.
Delano: “You could recall those letters, and say, ‘Folks in the city of Pittsburgh, folks in Mt. Oliver, those figures were wrong, we’re gonna to do it right.’ Do you intend to do that?”
Fitzgerald: “Well, again, we’re looking at that, Jon. I don’t know exactly. We want to make sure we’re going through procedurally the proper way, but I do not want city residents to be unfairly targeted.”
Fitzgerald will unveil his full strategy next week after he gets sworn in on Tuesday.
It will include a call on lawmakers in Harrisburg to pass a moratorium in January on court-ordered reassessments.
That’s the fastest way to deal with the current mess.
The full interview with Fitzgerald on the KD/PG Sunday Edition will air this Sunday on KDKA-TV at 8:30 a.m.