Judge rules against Shade-Central City School District in coal tax case
A judge has ruled against a southwestern Pennsylvania school district that wants higher taxes levied on property used for coal mining.
The Shade-Central City School District was in court to try to get the Somerset County assessment appeals board to adopt a new methodology for valuing coal. The district is arguing in its 2011 tax assessment appeal that the county has under-assessed parcels owned by coal companies in Shade Township.
Common Pleas Judge Gregory Geary barred the district Wednesday from presenting testimony from a company hired to appraise active coal mines within its jurisdiction, The Daily American reported.
The county argued that the state constitution requires that a taxing authority apply the same methodology for valuing real property to all property within its jurisdiction.
“Shade Township's position would mean that the school districts in the county would be taxed different than others. We are required to have our tax assessment uniform,” county solicitor Dan Rullo said.
The judge agreed, saying adopting the proposed valuation methodology “would create a constitutionally impermissible non-uniformity of taxation of coal parcels in the county.”
The school district said an active coal mine ought to be treated as a single economic unit, such as a store or fast-food restaurant, with its value based on what the mine would sell for if placed upon the market. Under the established methodology, there are four classes of coal acreage, based on use.
Geary said the proposed methodology would produce a 240 percent increase in assessed value for active coal acreage in one mine he cited as an example. Such changes would unevenly allocate the tax burden among coal parcel owners, he wrote.
“For this reason, we hold here that if the school district wishes to challenge the county's established methodology, than it must do so in an action that applies to all coal parcels in Somerset County,” Geary wrote.
District solicitor Jeffrey Berkey said the board will review its options after he examined the court order in more detail.
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.
- Former Steelers linebacker Harrison retires
- 90,000 people could hit the North Shore for games, ribs
- Penn State edges Central Florida on last-second field goal
- Outbound 376 reopened after man on exit sign caused closure
- Pitt presents Web resource to combat OD deaths
- Veteran Keisel settles into role with Steelers
- Pirates notebook: Lambo recalled to bolster bench
- Steelers claim former Cowboys cornerback Webb
- Secret judicial ruling blocks release of sexually explicit emails
- Harrison shines again as Pirates clip Reds, 2-1
- Franklin Regional security guard fighting to get job back