Will State Hear County’s Pleas?

This week the Governor and 31 state legislators have been invited to County Council’s chambers to discuss "PA Assessment Law and the 2012 Court Ordered Allegheny County Reassessment". The topic could more appropriately be titled "Please Act on Our Moratorium Request". Council, by a 13-2 vote, recently passed a resolution asking the General Assembly to pass a bill circumventing the decision of the state Supreme Court that ordered a reassessment based on the uniformity violations in the County’s base year plan.

As we have pointed out before, the serious consequences of a legislative action that would try to nullify a Supreme Court decision cannot be understated. The County Executive and Council members in support of the base year and now the moratorium say they want predictability and stability. However, the status quo is in clear violation of the state Constitution’s uniformity clause.

From the perspective of the Council the upside of the moratorium is that it will give the General Assembly "suitable time to study Pennsylvania’s current property tax system and to enact legislation of uniform, equitable, and statewide effect…" The problem is that one, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee released such a study in July of 2010 and two, the state has known for a long time with or without studies that the property tax system is outmoded and has acted at the margins (lottery, slot machines, homestead exemptions, etc.) to "solve" the problem.

A sure sign of how seriously legislators from the County take the Council’s request will be reflected by how many show up to the meeting.