“Allegheny County will comply with the court-ordered 2012 reassessment…”-press release from the Chief Executive, December 4, 2009
“I will do everything in my power to make sure [a 2012 reassessment for Allegheny County] does not happen”-quote from the Chief Executive from a County Council meeting, January 19, 2010. Further, in speaking to reporters the Executive indicated that as Governor he would put an end to court ordered re-assessments claiming that his power to do that derived from the Supreme Court’s ruling that the assessment issue is the purview of the Legislature.
Last night, at a meeting with County Council, the Chief Executive said "I will do everything in my power to make sure [a 2012 reassessment for Allegheny County] does not happen".
That’s quite different from what he said in an official County press release dated December 4, 2009: "Allegheny County will comply with the court-ordered 2012 reassessment…"
So what accounts for the shift in thinking? It is anyone’s guess at this point. Perhaps more important is exactly how the Executive plans to stop the reassessment from going forward. A bill he favored that would allow for a moratorium on reassessments continues to languish in the General Assembly, and for good reason-that bill would create a Constitutional crisis by having one branch of government telling counties to ignore a unanimous Supreme Court decision.
Maybe he wants to study the issue to death, and this is another idea that ought to be nipped in the bud. The Court of Common Pleas provided a comprehensive picture of assessment practices, as did the Allegheny Institute, and the Supreme Court decision even noted that "twenty two of our sister states require annual reassessments, while twenty six permit reassessments to be conducted at intervals over one year, though they still require periodic reassessment". If the Executive is trying to find another state that allows for indefinite base year assessments, he is not going to find evidence to bolster his case.
What is the Executive’s plan for reassessments then? To keep the courts out of assessments completely, even if questions over uniformity arise? A zero windfall in order to prevent the "back door" tax increases that he abhors? A shift to income or sales taxes in order to end property taxes for schools, cities, and counties? How would he treat counties where a reassessment occurs by an affirmative vote of elected county officials as opposed to a court ordered reassessment?
So many questions arise from this never ending quest to prevent what the highest court in the Commonwealth said needs to be done.