Allegheny County has responded in court to residents suing over rising property tax assessments, arguing third-party appraisals paid for by homeowners are not the final word in determining a property's value.
In briefs filed Tuesday with support from county, the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review answered the claims of 11 property owners who want the board to required to follow certified appraisals to determine the value of property unless other information is presented. The residents hearing officers failed to follow certified appraisals even when the county, their town or their school district failed to submit any evidence to the contrary.
The board, represented by attorney David Montgomery, disagrees. The property owners never pointed out any part of Pennsylvania law to support many of their claims, he wrote, and misread other case law to fit their agenda.
Nothing requires hearing officers to accept expert testimony as fact, he wrote. Indeed, the brief cited a previous case in which the courts warned that requiring an official to swallow the testimony of a single expert would remove the need for the official altogether.
"Expert testimony which is competent, credible and unrebutted evidence must be given weight," Mr. Montgomery wrote. "However, it is not true that it must be accepted wholly."
Property owners filed the suit in January and are seeking to have it certified as a class action. Senior Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. rejected a request for an injunction but the case is proceeding as a regular lawsuit.
Andrew McGill: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1497.