What is the County’s Reassessment Policy?
Based on the statements made by the County Chief Executive this week in response to when the next reassessment will come, we can probably say the outlook is "read my lips: no new assessments". The Exec, a longtime opponent of reassessments in general and the 2012 one in specific, said "We’re not going to be reassessing. We’re using a base-year plan like every other county…It’s tough to look 10 years down the road. It’s my hope that the Legislature will deal with this issue." That quote was taken this week but it could have been written at any point over the last decade.
We know where things stand at the state level-the Legislature has shown no desire to pass a law that mandates when reassessments have to happen and the Supreme Court has said a base year in and of itself is not bad but that eventually the assessments will become "stale" and violate the uniformity clause of the Constitution, thus necessitating a reassessment (when that happens exactly will vary). Could things be different by 2023? Maybe. The point here is to determine what the County has on their books and what it will have in the future.
The Administrative Code (Article 210) reflects the language of a base year plan, notwithstanding the fact that something funny happened on the way to the implementation of the last base year. An ordinance passed in October 2005 established the base year and another ordinance in early 2006 was enacted to clean up language that would"…otherwise impede the orderly administration of a base year…" Subsections deal with special provisions for 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 and the most recent section applying only to 2013 states only that appeals for 2013 had to be filed by April 1st of this year. If the County is intent on keeping a base year it might have to tweak some of that language or continue adding transitionary provisions as it has.
There is separate language on reassessments written into the County’s ordinances (Article VIII of Chapter 475 on taxation) reflects the plan to have values ready for 2006 which came from a ordinance passed in 2002 prior to the base year plan, but it seems clear that this section is no longer valid and could be stricken from the code.
Two years ago when we put together a report on some of the critical issues facing Allegheny County as a guide for office seekers and we recommended that a new policy be established after the completion of the court ordered reassessment based on the IAAO recommendations that a physical examination of property be done at least once in a six year period. The Executive and the members of Council who were on Council in 2005 and 2006 and voted for the base year would obviously be opposed to that recommendation. It could lead to another court challenge as alluded to by some in the news article, and given present conditions a court would have to determine whether the County’s base year had reached the point where it violated uniformity.