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Errors on Allegheny County property assessments blamed on computer

| Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, 11:56 p.m.

An Allegheny County assessment official said on Monday that about 100 people who appealed their property assessment received erroneous results because of a computer glitch.

“We are going through the dispositions to determine how many there are. I believe it's about 100,” said David Montgomery, solicitor for the Board of Property Assessment and Review. “We're identifying them and resending the correct dispositions.”

The errors generally occurred in results for people who received a reduction in assessed value through an informal appeal — the first step in the process — and then appealed again to the Board of Property Assessment and Review.

The errors occurred in properties for which values increased back to the 2013 assessed value, effectively wiping out the reduction in the first appeal.

Montgomery said the glitch was that the reduced values from the first appeal did not make it through the computer system for the second appeal.

That's what happened to Terri Parker, 58, of Elizabeth Township, whose house nearly doubled in value from $115,000 to $210,900 with the new assessment. She won a reduction through an informal appeal to about $173,000 but said that is still too high.

Parker appealed and had a hearing with the Board of Property Assessment and Review. When she received her result, the assessment was back up to $210,900.

“It seems to me there's been too many mistakes. It's still too high,” Parker said. “The public officials need to know the lives they're affecting. When I got the $210,900 assessment, I burst into tears. I can't afford to live in my house, and who's going to buy it at what they say it's worth?”

Montgomery said it's possible that a legitimate rise in value can occur during appeals before the board, but it's rare. He said Parker's erroneous value will be rescinded and her case will be reviewed.

Montgomery said he informed the Board of Viewers, the next level to appeal, of the problem because some people may be appealing erroneous values.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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