Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spot Assessment Bill Back on Front Burner

A group of lawmakers say they're not giving up on a package of property tax bills Governor Ed Rendell vetoed twice last legislative session. The latest effort to pass a measure eliminating so-called "spot appeals" of property taxes is making its way through the PA House. Two separate times, lawmakers sent Governor Rendell a bill that would ban school districts and municipalities from reassessing the property tax value of recently sold homes. Both times, Rendell struck down the measures. Representative Tim Seip says hiking property taxes on some homeowners, but not others, is fundamentally wrong. He says he watched it happen to a group of homes in his own district, “They're in a development that was built at the same time, by the same builder, with identical floor plans on identical lot sizes. But those who bought the homes prior to 1996 will pay one rate, and someone who moves in today will pay the 2009 rate for the same exact property.” Allegheny County lawyers have been fighting school districts engaged in spot assessments for the last few years. Seip's new package is identical to a bill that passed the House with 140 votes and cleared the Senate with 38 in the last session. Rendell's spokesman, Chuck Ardo, says the Governor would veto it again if it reaches his desk. He says Rendell is concerned the legislation would remove powers municipalities have to challenge county property assessments they think are too low. A suit field against Allegheny County’s assessment system could eventually force all counties in the state to assess properties more often.

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