County Controller Finds Problems With Recent Reassessments
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner says the 2011 property reassessment by Tyler Technologies technically complied with the contract — but that was because there was such a low standard of accountability.
“In 2002, compliance was mandated at industry standards for fairness and accuracy at the neighborhood level. By contrast, this reassessment, Tyler Technologies only had to meet that standard of fairness across the entire county,” Wagner said, as she released an audit of the reassessment process.
The consequence, says Wagner, was greater disparity and mistakes.
The controller was also critical of a rewrite of the Tyler contract last February without public notice that “allowed high valued homes and commercial properties to be significantly under-assessed.”
Wagner says the blame rests with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
“That was a change that did happen during this administration which we believe should have been publicly vetted,” Wagner said.
Fitzgerald says it’s Judge Wettick, not the county, who took over reassessment.
“The judge was involved in the contract, he was pushing the contract, pushing it through,” Fitzgerald told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano.
“Well, I can tell you that’s false, and that’s one thing that our audit very, very clearly reveals,” responded Wagner.
While property reassessment would seem to be a matter of numbers, and values, and calculations, it inevitably involves politics. And this case is no exception, demonstrating some real tension, some growing tension, between the county executive and county controller.
Fitzgerald says, given the errors she found, the controller should have stopped payment to Tyler as she once threatened to do.
“She’s obviously done a 180,” he said.