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Reassessment Makes Taxes A Guessing Game

(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

Andy Sheehan Andy Sheehan
KDKA-TV Investigator Andy Sheehan began his broadcast journalism...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — First your new assessment — now brace yourself for your new tax bill.

In the next week, the Pittsburgh School District will have to come up with a new tax rate based on these new property values.

The board president, Sherry Hazuda, has one word for it.

“A mess. I don’t know how we get out of this,” she said.

Here’s the problem.

Assessment values have gone up in the city more than 40 percent, but the school district can’t reap more than 1.7 percent in new tax revenues.

That means the millage rate has to go down but it’s anyone’s guess how much.

“We may be in the position of having to return funds to people if we set it too high,” Hazuda said.

The City of Pittsburgh has the same problem — and adding to the confusion are the tens of thousands of people who are and will appeal the values.

If many or most are successful — the taxing bodies will need to make refunds to them and set a new higher tax rate in the future.

That’s why Councilman Bill Peduto has sent a letter to Judge R. Stanton Wettick asking for the city’s permission to use the old assessment values for one year and let the appeals run their course.

“I think it makes a heck of a lot more sense to give ourselves a year to get it right than trying to jam it and do it really quick and have to change millage rates three times,” Peduto said.

But in recent court sessions, Wettick has already denied petitions from other municipalities wanting to use the old assessed values.

Those requests for more time will likely fall on deaf ears, forcing the city and the school board to send out tax bills which can only guesstimate what you really owe.

Meantime, newly sworn-in Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says he’ll stop the reassessment.

He told KDKA’s Andy Sheehan he’ll appear before the judge who ordered the reassessment and if he doesn’t get satisfaction, he’s considering going to federal court to put the whole process on hold.

On Wednesday, Fitzgerald plans to meet with lawmakers and members of the Pittsburgh school board to discuss the situation.

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