Judge Delays Ruling On 2012 Assessments, Fitzgerald Responds
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Attorneys showed up for a special hearing about whether or not there would be a delay on using the 2012 assessment numbers, but Judge R. Stanton Wettick has not yet made a decision.
The City of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Public Schools want to delay the implementation of the new assessments by one year.
“We’re simply trying to make sure that, you know, the district’s going to be able to provide for the schools and provide for the children in the most effective way and using the old assessed values gives them the best assurance of being able to do that,” Pittsburgh Schools Attorney Paul Lalley said.
The city and school district said establishing a tax rate based on the reassessment would be hitting a moving target.
Since so many property owners will appeal, the school district said it may have to shell out millions in refunds and may not have enough money to operate.
The delay would allow most appeals to run their course and allow the taxing bodies with more reliable numbers on which to base their taxes.
“The concern is that with the new numbers when we have to set a tax rate before the appeals process has caused a reduction of those numbers that it could cause the district to have a revenue shortfall that we simply can’t tolerate having in this year,” Lalley said.
Meantime, Judge Wettick did not find Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in contempt, but put the onus on the people who work for him to follow the court’s orders. The judge says he’ll find them in contempt if they disregard them.
Fitzgerald held a news conference about Wettick’s latest move.
“We had an election and the people elected a county executive and a county council to set policy,” he says, “and I think for the courts and activist judges to overreach and come in and take over a legislative function is not proper.”
“It appears that the judge is now making them employees of his – that he’s going to issue orders as to how they operate,” he continued. “How far do we go in judicial activism? We have a judge that was unelected, put himself on senior status and now he’s setting tax policy in Allegheny County.”
Fitzgerald says there’s no way county administrators will obey the judge and not him.
Judge Wettick is expected to rule on whether or not to delay the use of the new numbers at a hearing slated for 2 p.m. Thursday.
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