It’s Like 2005 All Over Again

It’s Like 2005 All Over Again

Yesterday Judge Wettick essentially said "keep going, but let’s slow down" when he allowed for a one year delay in the implementation of the 2012 assessed values until 2013. The ruling dealt with the Pittsburgh Public Schools-the district that was moved to the front last year so that the budget and tax rates would be ready to go based on the 2012 assessments-but by extension would have to affect all districts, municipalities, and County government going forward.

That means the 1 mill increase by the County and any other local real estate tax hikes will stay in effect since they don’t have to deal with the pesky effects of Act 71, which says millage rates have to be rolled back to be revenue neutral in reassessment years. The County Executive was partially right when he said that law "has no teeth"; it is hard to bite when muzzled, after all.

The delay means that the owners who would have seen a tax decrease-about 2/3rds of the city according to one analysis-will have to wait until next year. And those loud voices that complained about their values will have a year to appeal and absorb the sticker shock.

In other words, we have just gone back seven years in the process. From a news article dated December 27, 2004 "In 2005, though, property owners will receive their assessments a year before they go into effect. That means property owners will pay taxes on their old assessments and will have time to appeal the new ones before school districts, municipalities and the county begin using them."

In a great bit of foreshadowing the shape of things to come, the former County Executive noted that the legalization of slots for school property tax reductions was "…relief but it is not enough" and the article remarked that "large increases in valuations are expected, because three years have passed since the last reassessment." Well, now it will be been ten years-make that eleven-before new values will go into effect, if indeed they actually do in 2013. Given the ability of the County to extract concessions from the Judge, the reassessments might never happen.

Since many of the new assessed property values will reflect 2010 prices-since that was the year the process was started- by 2013 the values will already be three years old.