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Appealing for clarity

| Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Great fanfare accompanied the recent enactment of an Allegheny County ordinance which extended the deadline to file a formal property tax assessment appeal to, ironically, April 1, 2013. Yet the ordinance does not specify which residents this applies to — does it mean we get a new chance at a formal appeal even if we have already had one? Nor does it create any mechanism — no new form, no website — through which an owner may appeal. The 2013 appeals forms have long been withdrawn by the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review (BPAAR).

I called County Council, the BPAAR and the county executive's office to seek clarification. The consensus seems to be that everyone who has not appealed up to the Board of Viewers gets a new chance to appeal their 2013 assessments. But nobody knows for sure, and a representative from the county executive's office even said that they are “waiting for more clarification.” The BPAAR representative said they have not made available forms that allow an appeal through this new ordinance.

So now, Allegheny County citizens apparently have a law which may or may not give property owners a new stab at their assessments. And owners also have no way to do so.

Continued gaffes about our property-tax appeals such as these make our county the laughingstock of our commonwealth. Allegheny County citizens deserve better than to be made into April fools.

Jesse Chen

Ross

The writer is an attorney whose solo private practice handles property assessment appeals including his own.

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