WASHINGTON, Pa. (KDKA) — As of this moment, Washington County is a step closer to property reassessment but the fight isn’t over yet and it’s a long way from being settled in court.
“We’re watching what’s going on to our neighbors to the north in Allegheny County,” Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi said. “We see what’s going on and we see what the problems are and we think if the state does some oversight, and has some rules for vendors and put down some minimum requirements for how we do reassessments, we won’t have these problems.”
The issue has been ongoing for some time – raised first by the Washington City and McGuffy School districts which argued that the county’s current assessment numbers are outdated and have allowed commercial properties in particular not to pay their fair share.
“But the taxing bodies are required by law to adjust their millage downward so that they do not reap a windfall, so in reality most homeowners in Washington County will have a reduction in their taxes,” Susan Key, a school district attorney, said.
Both sides have dug in disputing that claim.
“This reassessment is scaring everybody and we want to put it to rest and the commissioners, all three commissioners, are avowed to continue the fight and we’re going to go to the Supreme Court – as far as we can go,” Maggi said.
“Washington County was last reassessed in 1981, so any assessments today are based on 1981 market value so even if you build a new home last year in 2011, Washington County’s assessor had to determine what it would have been worth in 1981 which is just ridiculous,” Key said.
For now, though a Commonwealth Court judge has rejected the county’s appeal of a court decision in November that told the county to go ahead and reassess county properties.
County commissioners say they are appealing the latest ruling and they want a panel of Commonwealth Court judges to review it.