Assessment Anarchy

How else could the situation surrounding Allegheny County’s reassessment be described? We are long past "will they or won’t they". Just yesterday the court found out that the County has engaged in even more foot-dragging on his reassessment order: the chief assessment officer of the County hasn’t even read Judge Wettick’s order, written on November 10th. That same assessment officer said that he was told by his boss, the head of the Administrative Services, to ignore the plan. Upon further questioning, the department head told the Judge that he was advised by the Law Department.

That would be the same Law Department headed by the County Solicitor who told the Judge in October that "whatever the Court tells us to do, we will do". Empty words indeed, notwithstanding the fact that the County had already announced they would appeal the plan to Commonwealth Court.

So what’s next? The Judge has to do something-his order, though flawed, comes from a Supreme Court decision in April saying that the County’s base year violated the uniformity clause of the Constitution. Maybe the Judge can suspend any requirement for taxpayers to pay real estate taxes until the County commits to fixing the assessments and their solution is certified to meet acceptable standards. There has already been significant damage done to the public’s confidence in the rule of law.