By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburghers are known for their warmth and hospitality, but some new home buyers may have their doubts.

After buying a new home, they’ve seen their assessments jump under something some call a “newcomers tax.”

“It is a newcomer’s tax. It’s referred to as a ‘welcome stranger tax.’ It’s taxing people who buy a new house in the county” said Edward Friedman, the attorney for the class action lawsuit.

The Pittsburgh School District routinely appeals the assessment of new home buyers, and those assessments generally jump.

On Monday, new buyers Joseph and Ester Martell filed a lawsuit on behalf of themselves, and any other newcomer who wants to join them, after they bought a house on Darlington Road in Squirrel Hill for $750,000.

In 2015, the school board appealed the assessment and it jumped from $465,000 to $690,000. Their attorney says he wants their assessment and others rolled back.

“We’re not asking for a countywide reassessment. That’s up to the county to decide whether they want to do it this year or next year or not at all. That’s not what we’re asking for,” Friedman. “We’re asking that members of this class, who are only the people who have had purchases made in the last couple of years, that their assessments be rolled back to where they were before these improper appeals were made.”

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Ira Weiss, attorney for the school district, says the appeals are fair and have withstood legal challenges in the past.

“We’ll defend it to the fullest extent we can. We believe the law is being followed here, and we believe in the end, we’ll prevail,” said Weiss.

So, at the risk of seeming rude, the school district says it will defend this so-called newcomer’s tax and continue to welcome its new neighbors with a high property assessment.

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