PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s cancellation of informal assessment hearings caught some by surprise at the county assessment office.

“I don’t like it and it’s not fair,” said one taxpayer who showed for a cancelled hearing.

Unfairness is a common sentiment about this whole mess. Those unhappy with that 2012 reassessment feel it they’re caught between a rock and a hard place.

“There is this battle which has left taxpayers confused, concerned, and it’s become appropriately described as chaotic,” says Jonathan Kamin, a property assessment attorney.

A letter from Fitzgerald sent to taxing bodies and taxpayers rescinds those 2012 assessments with so many errors and reinstates the old assessment figures used in 2011.

But Judge Wettick’s court order issued Friday morning asserts that the only figures the city and school district can use are the 2012 numbers.

With the chief executive having cancelled those informal appeals, all that’s left for residents to do now is essentially file a formal appeal of their 2012 assessments.

They can do that on a form that hasn’t changed and still has the deadline of February 10th.

Attorneys say if you think your 2012 assessment is wrong, appeal it now to avoid getting crunched between Fitzgerald and Wettick.

“To protect our clients’ rights — look, we are in favor of a delay — there are certainly some wild inaccuracies that have to be cured — but we have to operate in the best interests of our clients,” says Kamin.

“We’re telling all our clients and anyone out there with questions to file the formal appeal,” notes Robert Peirce, another property assessment lawyer.

City property owners don’t have to act immediately — the deadline is not until February.

In fact, you might want to wait to see what happens in Judge Wettick’s courtroom next Tuesday when he could postpone the 2012 figures for a year.

Bottom line, however, is that filing this piece of paper for an appeal is easy and you can always withdraw it.

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