PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County executive-elect Rich Fitzgerald takes office on January 3, so KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano asked him if the court-ordered reassessment letters will go out on his watch.
“No,” Fitzgerald responded. “I’ve said they will not go out if Allegheny County is the only county to have this happen to.”
Fitzgerald says he will stand by his campaign pledge.
“If we reassess when nobody else is reassessing, it will lower the property values of everybody in Allegheny County. It will be a backdoor tax increase. For example, the last time we did this 10 years ago, 82 percent of the people saw their taxes go up.”
Common Pleas Judge Stanton Wettick has ordered city reassessment letters to go out before Fitzgerald takes office, but the rest of the county won’t learn their reassessment values until January.
Fitzgerald: “I won’t let those bills go out, yeah.”
Delano: “Will you violate a court order?”
Fitzgerald: “If necessary, yes.”
The county executive-elect hopes it won’t come to that but he says he has an obligation to protect homeowners.
“I wasn’t elected by the courts. I wasn’t appointed by the courts. I was elected by the people and I campaigned on this.”
And while he will take an oath to uphold the laws, he sees a higher oath.
“And I’m taking an oath to protect the people, the 600,000 property owners who have worked their whole lives to keep their property values in place.”
Disobeying a court order is a serious matter, but Fitzgerald says it’s wrong for a judge to order Allegheny County alone to reassess when neighboring counties haven’t been reassessed in years.
The state Supreme Court — which today denied the county’s appeal on this issue — has urged the state legislature to adopt a uniform approach.
But, so far, Harrisburg has done nothing.