Expert: Allegheny County must reassess regularly

Expert: Allegheny County must reassess regularly

At long last, the reportage on the continuing mess that is Allegheny County’s patently unconstitutional property assessment system gives a fair shake to the only real solution to solve it.

In a Thursday story on the continuing court battles over property assessment appeals in the badly broken and wholly inequitable system, the Post-Gazette’s Mark Belko offers this breath of fresh air at the bottom of the story.

Here’s the setup:

“Dominick Gambino, president of Diversified Municipal Services, which provides services to taxing bodies on real estate and assessment issues, said he has 2022 appeals pending that aren’t scheduled to be heard until February.

“He estimated that there could be up to 1,000 in that situation.

“At the same time, Mr. Gambino doesn’t blame the assessment board for not making final determinations with the litigation undecided.”

Here’s the real issue, per Gambino, from the P-G story:

“That’s not to say he has much use for the common level ratio, which he called a ‘voodoo calculation.’

“’It’s not a measure of equity. There should be no common level ratio. As I’ve said several times, they should be reassessing regularly,’ he said.

“Mr. Gambino maintained the controversy over the common level ratio and the many appeals being filed by taxing bodies and in some cases property owners themselves are the result of a ‘system frozen since 2012’ when the last court-ordered reassessment took place.”

And here’s the succinct bottom line, one that should sound familiar to our readers:

“’The only way to fix it is to fix the numbers, correct them, make them uniform and equitable,’ he said.”

The Allegheny Institute has been saying this all along. And that’s for decades.

That repeated iterations of Allegheny County government have refused to do the right thing in favor of political expediency should not be lost of property owners that continue to be violated by these pols’ public dis-purpose shaft.

Such shameful behavior is anathema to sound public policy.

One of the wags with whom this scrivener regularly corresponds responded thusly to a recent column on the bill of goods typically sold to taxpayers in the name of “regionalizing” government:

“I agree with you. Look at what has happened to this country and the debt it is in because of all this centralization of agencies that were more effective and less costly before merging them.

“Why should the suburban communities take on the debt and the messy problems which the city has?

“When politicians gain too much power, which will happen if there is regionalized governance of local communities, they tend to spend like there is no end of revenue.

“Also, they tend to bloat all the agencies within the regionalized governance.

“Many of those excess and useless jobs go to their relatives and political supporters. Plus, it will give the unions more power and influence.”

That last point alone is a great singular argument against regionalism.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).