Fate of Beaver County reassessment in hands of court

Fate of Beaver County reassessment in hands of court

In the last decade the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been involved in two countywide reassessment cases, one it actually heard and decided on (Allegheny) and one it decided not to entertain (Washington).  That led to revaluations in 2013 and 2017 for both counties.

Now it will be Beaver County’s turn.  Having lost in Common Pleas and Commonwealth courts, the board of commissioners approved a motion to authorize its law department to appeal the Commonwealth Court decision.  If the state’s highest court upholds the decision the county will conduct its first reassessment since 1982.

Not too surprisingly, the commissioners noted they were simply carrying out the wishes of their constituents, many of whom are probably scared that a change in assessed value will automatically lead to a tax increase.  Going from a base year that is 37 years old to a new one is going to mean a big jump in dollar amounts.  Add to that the fact that the county uses a predetermined ratio of 50 percent and would likely go to 100 percent of a more recent year if the court confirms the decisions of the lower courts.  That would lead to even more change in a property’s assessment.

But as we have pointed out before, state law on millage hikes following a reassessment, (which in Beaver County’s case would be Act 93 of 2010) requires taxing bodies to adjust millage rates to a revenue-neutral amount.  That way, taxpayers can gauge the change in value of their property to what has happened for each of the three taxing bodies (county, municipal and school) to determine what will happen with their taxes.

If the Supreme Court decides by April, at that point it will have been a decade since the Allegheny County decision.  And in that time the General Assembly has not shown any interest in moving to a regular cycle of reassessments to make the process more predictable and understandable.