Thursday, April 30, 2009

Unconstitutional Dan

I have to follow in the footsteps of the PGH Comet and Nullspace in gloating today.

Property tax re-assessments are a boring subject, yet they speak to the division of class in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Regular re-assessments are critical in a county like Pittsburgh's where especially in the last 10 years you have had some areas skyrocket in value (i.e. South Side) while others have been sinking like an anchor (i.e. Braddock).

Some people think that you shouldn't be "penalized" for the increased the value of your home by being forced to pay more taxes on it. However, I think that's akin to saying that if you get a raise at work for good performance, you shouldn't owe more in income taxes. On the flip side, that's like saying if your salary decreases, you are still required to pay the same taxes. That's just not the way our society works, and it's brutally unfair.

For far too long, we've had people (including myself) benefiting at the expense of the poorer neighborhoods in this city, county and throughout the state. Thanks to the State Supreme Court, at least in Allegheny County, this unconstitutional practice may be coming to an end.

From Chief Justice Castille:

"[T]he Allegheny County scheme, which permits a single base-year assessment to be used indefinitely, has resulted in significant disparities in the ratio of assessed value to current actual value in Allegheny County."

"The disparity is most often to the disadvantage of owners of properties in lower-value neighborhoods where property values often appreciate at a lower rate than in higher-value neighborhoods, if they appreciate at all," the court said.

But what does Dan Onorato have to say? According to the Post-Gazette:
"... Mr. Onorato vowed to end property reassessments in Allegheny County as well since taking office six years ago. He repeated his vow yesterday."
"It would be unfair for me to just roll over and do something that will raise the property taxes of the 1.3 million people in this county," Mr. Onorato said.
My response (again)?
"Let's get something straight. Housing prices (in a normal society) increase. It's perfectly natural and expected that prices will increase. In fact, if housing prices didn't increase we'd be in trouble. HOWEVER, the increased value of an assessed house SHOULD NOT mean increased property tax. When values go up, the county or the city or whomever, SHOULD adjust the mill rate DOWN so that the net result for them is about the same. Is there a law against that in Harrisburg???"
Yes, I just quoted my previous blog entry, but I admit I'm getting tired of spouting the same old argument. Isn't this getting a little old, Dan? Can you please stop wasting county money on defenseless ever-appealed court cases?

1 comment:

EdHeath said...

Chris Briem made the same argument, about millage rates going down, in the comments on the Comet. In fact, he said there is a law to the effect that a County can not enjoy a windfall profit. Not sure what qualifies as a windfall in this context.

I think what some people around the State might be angry about is having to do an (re)assessment at all. Some Counties have apparently not done one for many, many years. It will be an expensive and time consuming process, and the appeals may also take a considerable amount of time.