Hempfield to 'vigorously' fight 3 tax assessment appeals
By Richard Gazarik
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
The attorney for Hempfield Area said the school district will “vigorously” defend itself in tax assessment appeals filed by three companies who want to pay less to Westmoreland County, the township and the school district.
Solicitor Dennis Slyman said Westinghouse Airbrake Technologies Corp., Home Depot and Penallen Corp. in New Stanton, a subsidiary of UPS, filed appeals late last year because the county Tax Assessment Appeals Board refused to reduce the assessments on their properties.
“It's rather large requests,” Slyman said.
At stake for the school district is nearly $342,000 in taxes paid by the three companies, according to tax records.
Westinghouse's 19.1-acre site on Donohoe Road is assessed at nearly $557,000, according to its appeal. Home Depot's property is assessed at $1.2 million and Penallen at $2.8 million, according to tax records. Penallen occupies 32.5 acres on UPS Drive in New Stanton.
In their appeals, the companies cited similar arguments that the assessments lack uniformity and were “unreasonable and discriminating.”
The school district has intervened in a fourth case filed in 2012 by Parkway Provisions Co., which is seeking a reduction in its 2013 assessment of $1.4 million, court records show. The school district stands to lose more than $106,000.
Westmoreland County has not undergone a county-wide property reassessment since 1972. A reassessment would update property values to reflect current fair market values rather than basing assessments on land values that are more than 40 years old.
The appeals were filed as the school district prepares its 2014-15 budget, and school officials said an adverse decision could reduce the amount of tax revenue the district has to work with.
Business manager Jude Abraham uses property taxes to determine how much the district can spend in the ensuing school year. Tax revenue and state education subsidies comprise most of the budget and determine whether a tax increase is needed to offset a deficit. In the current $91 million spending plan, real estate taxes account for $42 million — 46 percent — of the budget.
Abraham said the district is allowed under state law to raise taxes as much as 1.9 mills next school year. If the district decides to raise taxes, the increase would generate between $1.1 million and $1.3 million in additional revenue, he said.
“I think this is going to be a very good budget season for Hempfield,” Abraham said.
Hempfield is in a better financial position than most Westmoreland school districts, because the district's assessed valuation continues to rise, mainly because of the boom in housing construction.
The district's assessed value is $626.5 million, an increase of $2.5 million over last year. The assessed value of Norwin School District is $389 million, budget records show, and its $347.3 million in the Franklin Regional School District.
“Every year it's going up,” Abraham said.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at email@example.com.
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.
- Husband to stand trial in Derry middle school teacher’s murder
- Mt. Pleasant to save with energy-efficient lighting
- Scottdale center to host tribute to singing legends
- Latrobe couple charged with shoving guard, stealing from Wal-Mart
- 4 Franklin Regional students remain hospitalized for stab wounds
- Youngwood woman charged with selling heroin in Greensburg hospital
- None injured when car strikes school bus in Derry Township
- Lt. governor to speak at Westmoreland County GOP’s Reagan dinner
- Westmoreland County shared ride program sees drop in usage
- Norvelt man’s art on display at Seton Hill University’s gallery
- Juvenile prisoners present issues for jails