Fitzgerald files appeal of new value placed on his home
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Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has a tip for residents seeking to challenge their new property assessments.
"Find some good comparable [sales]," he said.
Mr. Fitzgerald made a formal appeal Wednesday of the new value placed on his Squirrel Hill home.
"I brought in what I think was a good comparable sale," he said. "We'll see what they think."
By appealing the new value of his home to the county's independent Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review, he joined 100,000 other property owners who have filed formal challenges to the assessments scheduled to take effect in 2013. The assessment on Mr. Fitzgerald's four-bedroom home on Denniston Street jumped from $403,700 to $584,600. His 45 percent increase was slightly below the 47 percent overall increase in residential property values calculated for the city as a whole.
A nearby home almost identical to his on a lot of similar size was sold in November 2011 for about $417,000, Mr. Fitzgerald said. That recent sale, which was not reflected in the county's reassessment data, provides a more accurate and up-to-date market value for his home, he said.
State law requires that property tax millage rates must be adjusted to make them "revenue neutral" following reassessment, which means that Mr. Fitzgerald should not see an automatic increase in his property taxes next year as a result of any higher value on his home.
The rules on "revenue neutrality," however, would allow local governments to increase the amount of revenue they get from property taxes by up to 5 percent, but they must do so via a separate vote. Similarly, school districts can increase their proceeds from property taxes by an amount that reflects inflation.
Mr. Fitzgerald has been a consistent foe of property re-evaluation. He has argued that it was unfair for the state Supreme Court to have singled out Allegheny County for reassessment while neighboring counties continue to use much older property values as the basis for calculating real estate taxes.
The state's high court ordered the county to revalue all properties in response to lawsuits brought by residents who claimed they were paying a disproportionate share of real estate taxes. The county has relied on a base-year system using 2002 property values that do not change as properties appreciate or depreciate at different rates over the years.
"Reassessment is a flawed process," Mr. Fitzgerald said. "The fact that 100,000 people have had to do what I am doing shows that many mistakes have been made."
First Published June 7, 2012 12:00 am