Call them the reluctant trio -- Larry Maggi, Diana Irey Vaughan and Harlan G. Shober Jr. They're the Washington County commissioners who last week awarded a $6.9 million contract to Tyler Technologies to do something that hasn't been done in 32 years.
Reassess property in Washington County.
It's not as if the commissioners had a choice; they were forced to act by a court order. It was the kind of order that should have been issued to all counties in Pennsylvania, many of which also try to go decades without performing reassessments.
Yet homeowners know that values fluctuate over time. Some properties rise in value, while others fall. Some communities improve overall, causing real estate prices to go up; others decline, which sends prices down.
Which is why it's unfair to base today's local, county and school district property taxes on an assessment that dates back to the Reagan administration. In a state where the Legislature is spineless on requiring periodic reassessment in every county, it's up to the courts to force them -- although the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to do that statewide in 2009 when faced with a case from Allegheny County.
But Washington County's court-ordered move is a small step toward progress. Welcome to 2013.