News Nearby: New Property Assessments Baffle Many

Property assessment notices are expected in the Moon area by March 2.

The bizarre property reassessments coming from Allegheny County and the company it hired to do the work are causing many residents and municipal leaders to ask if they did the job right.

Several residents have contacted Chartiers Valley Patch through social media to note strange neighborhood discrepancies, skyrocketing land values and all-out mistakes that raise serious questions about the accuracy of the county-wide reassessment.

Property owners living in the South Hills received their new assessments in the mail Tuesday and some said their land values doubled – in some cases tripled – while their building values remained the same. Other said the assessment had incorrect square footage or claimed they had basements or more bathrooms than are in the home.

Property assessment notices are expected in Moon area communities by March 2. County property owners who wish to file an appeal of their assessment must do so by April 2. 

Chartiers Valley Patch has filed an Open Records request with Allegheny County to release the total values for BridgevilleCollierHeidelbergScott and the Chartiers Valley School District so residents will know how their property compares to the average increase.

The numbers appear to be just as baffling for the municipalities.

Scott Township Manager Denise Fitzgerald said she is still crunching the numbers to see how they will have to adjust their millage rates next year, but she doesn’t expect the current numbers will hold steady with the massive number of reviews and appeals that residents are scheduling.

“It’s all over the map,” Fitzgerald said.

That’s also the case in Heidelberg, which has seen strange variations. Borough Manager Joe Kauer pointed to an industrial park on Ellsworth Avenue that went from being assessed at $750,000 in 2002 and increased to $2.4 million this year. Meanwhile, other commercial parcels were slashed in half while many homes increased substantially.

“I don’t think it’s possible to get it right,” Heidelberg Council President Ray Losego said. “How many times have we done this?”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Cole Layer Trumble is conducting the majority of the reassessments and one of its workers, Wesley Graham, is the chief assessment officer.The newspaper reported that the company and county are being forced to disclose how it evaluated properties before Monday.

How do you feel about the property assessment?


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