Vacancies filled on Allegheny County real estate appeal board
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Allegheny County judges have selected two lawyers to fill vacancies on the board that hears appeals of real estate assessments.
The county's Court of Common Pleas non-senior jurists on Thursday chose criminal court administrator Helen Lynch and attorney Stephen Farino for the open positions on the Board of Viewers. Now in private practice, Mr. Farino has worked as a law clerk for the county's senior judges. Ms. Lynch also holds a real estate license.
The part-time positions on the seven-member board pay $60,000 a year.
The Board of Viewers hears second-level challenges from property owners or taxing bodies -- most often school districts -- who are unsatisfied with the results of their assessment appeals before the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review.
With more than 100,000 property owners having filed challenges to their new property valuations, board members are expected to be busy in the coming months and into the new year. New assessments are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, replacing 2002 base-year values for more than 500,000 parcels of taxable real estate.
"We're optimistic that they will be able to start in October," Claire Capristo, chief deputy court administrator, said of the new members. Ms. Lynch and Mr. Farino were chosen from among a field of 11 candidates that included both attorneys and non-lawyers.
In addition to hearing real-estate assessment appeals, the Board of Viewers also handles eminent domain cases.
"Our workload has been increasing all the way around ... and we will happily accept new members," Michelle Lally, administrative chair for the agency, said.
The Board of Viewers is a separate agency from both the county Office of Property Assessment, which certifies property values and oversees informal challenges, and the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review, which decides formal appeals.
Masters from the Board of Viewers first seek to resolve assessment disputes via negotiation and conciliation, Ms. Lally said. If opposing sides cannot agree on a resolution, a formal hearing follows with masters taking testimony and making a recommendation to county court.
First Published September 7, 2012 12:00 am