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Jeannette Glass Co. plant owner loses tax appeal

| Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

The owner of the vacant Jeannette Glass Co. plant has lost an appeal to reduce the value of the blighted site in the heart of the cash-strapped city.

The Westmoreland County Tax Assessment Appeals Board, in a decision released Wednesday, denied a request from the plant's owner, Zion Bullitt Avenue Limited Partnership, to slash the assessment of four contiguous parcels.

A company lawyer last week argued the fair market value of the sites should be around $500,000 rather than the current assessment of $2.6 million.

“The board didn't think they met their burden,” said chief assessor William Ferraro. “The owners didn't introduce sufficient evidence to support their appeal.”

The board's decision means that the properties will be taxed at the same value they have held for the last decade.

Whether those taxes will be paid, though, still is in question.

The largest parcel of the plant site was sold for back taxes in October when the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. paid $305,000 for it.

But the sale is in limbo because the Zion Bullitt company filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the purchase. The lawsuit is pending.

According to tax records, in each of the last three years Zion owed more than $11,000 to the county, more than $17,000 to the city of Jeannette, and more than $44,800 to the school district in taxes on the factory site.

Attorney Al Gaudio, who represented Zion in the assessment appeal, did not return a telephone call seeking comment on Wednesday.

Jeannette Solicitor Scott Avolio said the assessment ruling was good news for the city.

“The city is still eager to work with the county and, hopefully, the taxes will continue to accrue on the property and that will make the property valuable (to the company) and it will look to unload it,” Avolio said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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