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Lawyers for Jeannette plant owner want property value cut

| Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A lawyer for the owner of the Jeannette Glass properties wants Westmoreland County to drastically cut the value of the tax-delinquent factory site.

The Westmoreland County Tax Assessment Appeals Board heard arguments Wednesday from Zion Bullitt Avenue Limited Partnership, which claims four parcels that make up the factory site in Jeannette are worth $500,000.

“The buildings are dilapidated, and it should be reassessed,” said lawyer Al Gaudio.

Jeannette Solicitor Scott Avolio said the county's current fair market value of the site, listed at $2.2 million, is accurate.

“It should stay at $2.2 million because in recent years, the property has increased in value due to the multimillion development on Sixth Street on one side and the new industrial park on the other,” Avolio said. “That property sits in a very attractive location for development.”

Any adjustment made to the 2013 property value could be moot. The property was sold for back taxes earlier this month when the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. paid $305,000 for it.

That sale, though, is in limbo because the Zion Bullitt company filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the purchase.

Should the sale be overturned and the title returned to the Zion company, the assessment board's decision to lower the property value would mean a lower future tax bill.

Gaudio said his client would pay a revised tax bill and explained why Zion had not paid his taxes since 2009,

“It was a mistake,” Gaudio said.

Gaudio presented testimony from the site's local manager, Jeannette businessman Frank Trigona, who told assessment board representatives that between $1 million and $2 million in scrap materials remain on the property.

Bill Ferraro, the county's chief assessor, said the appeals board is expected to make a ruling later this week, and the decision will be made public in early November.

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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