Assessment appeals draw Mt. Lebanon residents' ire
When Jason Margolis got a job in Pittsburgh three years ago, he and his family moved from Portland, Ore., to Mt. Lebanon.
Since then, property tax rates on new houses in the municipality have been rising, as has the ire of their owners. Real estate taxes on the $321,000, five-bedroom Margolis home increased from about $6,300 when he bought it to $7,200, then rose again to $9,500 because Mt. Lebanon officials appealed the assessment of some recently sold properties.
Now, Margolis and other residents who bought houses in 2011 and 2012 have banded together, and some will vent their concerns to Mt. Lebanon commissioners on Tuesday.
“If there is no movement and this injustice continues, some of those people may leave,” said Margolis, 44. “A few may foreclose because they can't afford the new tax burden on their monthly statement. And there will be acrimony — neighbor against neighbor.”
He is among 150 recent homebuyers who consider themselves unfairly targeted by what they call the “Mt. Lebanon Newcomer's Tax.” The municipality last year appealed the assessments of about 150 properties purchased between 2011 and 2012 in which the sale price was at least $48,000 more than the assessment.
Commissioner Dave Brumfield said the commissioners targeted new homeowners because a recent sales price is the best way to determine how much a house is actually worth.
“It doesn't help neighbors if one house is assessed at its fair market value and the house across the street is underassessed by hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Brumfield said. “The assessment process isn't ours to control. Our goal is to make it as fair as we can.”
Margolis said he knows of big discrepancies on his block. He said a similar house across the street is assessed at $80,000 less than his, and a similar house three doors down is $130,000 less.
After talking with some of the new homeowners, Brumfield said the commissioners are willing to consider whether to appeal the values of homes that could be under-assessed, as well.
Solicitor Phillip Weis said appealing the assessments of new residents' homes presents no legal concerns.
“I understand their point. They understand our point, which is we don't agree with them,” he said.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Analyst says Pa. senate race leans toward Toomey - because Democrats ‘loathe’ Sestak
- Millions to travel through Western Pa. during Memorial Day weekend
- Mixed-income apartments in flourishing East Liberty applauded
- 9 juveniles charged in connection with opening day disturbance at Kennywood
- Expert: Penn Hills loan could worsen stability
- VA report shows W.Pa. error rate down, but inspectors point out delays in re-evaluating cases cost $493K
- Trib wins 12 Golden Quills
- Wilkinsburg father convicted of kidnapping daughter; lawyer vows appeal
- Department of Justice program’s goal is increased trust between law enforcement, community
- Runner's heart attack, variety of ailments make busy day for marathon medics
- Newsmaker: Andrew Giffin