Appeals Deadline Arrives with Far Fewer Challenges

Appeals Deadline Arrives with Far Fewer Challenges

Last week we wrote about a pending class action lawsuit in Allegheny County over a school district appeal of a property value; south of Allegheny County in Washington County the deadline for appeals of property values is this Friday.

Compared to last year (between August 10th and October 31st, 2016) the board of appeals heard 9,500 cases, which amounts to 8% of the total number of parcels in the County (121,000).  This year, to date and following the release of new values, there are 1,156 appeals, about 1% of the total number of parcels.  Officials involved with the appeal process have thoughts on why there was a drop, both pointing to the obvious: what would it mean for the owner’s tax bill?

One said that owners may have been waiting to see how the process “was going to affect their taxes”.  As we noted in an April Policy Brief the County and municipalities had set their millage rates for 2017 at the end of 2016, and the school districts in the County set their rates by July 1st.  Another official speculated that on appeals that were withdrawn or the appellants failed to appeal were due to people “[seeing] a tax bill and they realized ‘this isn’t so bad'”.  Washington County officials did emphasize that jumps in assessed value of a certain magnitude did not necessarily mean that taxes would increase that much.  And, of course, many appeals are settled by an agreement between the parties on a value that makes both content.

In the appeal numbers of the 14 school districts in the County it appears four (Burgettstown, Canon-McMillan, McGuffey, and Washington) filed appeals on residential and/or commercial properties.  That is where the Allegheny County lawsuit is targeted, as well as proposed legislation in the General Assembly.