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Reluctantly, Washington County Issues RFP For Reassessment

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The last time property owners in Washington County saw a new reassessment was back in 1981, but a reassessment could be in the works.

“We are 100 percent against reassessment, no matter what happens,” said Larry Maggi, chair of the Washington County commissioners.

But under threat of contempt of court, the county commissioners have issued a request for proposal to find a company to reassess Washington County.

It’s clear they’re doing this under great duress, kicking and screaming all the way — and like their colleagues in Allegheny County — hoping the state will step in to provide some relief.

Commissioners hope Senate Bill 66 — if passed — will allow the county to be an assessment model.

“We would rather be the first county to reassess under a newer and fairer system than be the last county to reassess under the old,” added Maggi.

But with legislative action uncertain, the Washington and McGuffey School Districts are pressing for quick action.

“We spent taxpayer dollars to get them to do what they agreed to do,” noted Rick Mancini, senior operations director for the Washington School District.

In late 2008, the commissioners did sign this court affidavit stating they could not refute the statistical evidence of assessment inequities in the county — and agreeing it was reasonable to initiate a reassessment in 2009.

“For the last four years, every hour that I’ve billed my clients and every hour the county solicitor has billed has just been to delay this reassessment that the commissioners agreed to four years ago,” noted Susan Key, an attorney who represents both Washington and McGuffey.

That’s not how the commissioners see it.

“There’s a difference with agreeing to the facts and agreeing to a reassessment,” said Washington commissioner Diana Irey Vaughn.

Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca has scheduled a June 4 hearing to sanction the commissioners, while taxpayers have this advice on reassessment.

“I don’t think it’s any good. We pay enough taxes as it is,” said Ed Mirenna of Canonsburg.

“Their formula is going to be extremely tricky to be fair to everybody,” noted Don Johnson of Washington.

“Leave it alone because if they start messing with the tax business we always end up going up,” Jerry Turner of Cecil said.

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