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Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

To Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald: The news story “Revalued properties are still an issue in Allegheny County” noted great disparity between assessed property values and sale prices. Recent home sales “in Pine were on average $130,000 above their assessed prices.” Talk about not paying their fair share! In “economically depressed city neighborhoods — houses sold for less than their assessed values.” A home in Swissvale sold for $94,200 less than its assessed value.

This property-tax inequality is blatant favoritism of the affluent! You, Mr. Fitzgerald, fired Michael Suley, a former manager of the county Office of Property Assessment, who said, “The richer neighborhoods are underassessed. The poorer neighborhoods are overassessed, and the county is doing nothing to solve the problem.”

I'm offering some common sense: Every home's sale price should be the new assessed value. If everyone paid taxes on the true value of his home, Mr. Fitzgerald, you could ease the burden of so many struggling middle- and low-income citizens. After 40 years of paying property taxes, a senior citizen should be relieved of paying any more. If need be, kick in some of that casino profit money, as was once promised, or raise the county's additional sales tax a penny to accomplish senior citizen tax relief.

Fix this disgrace of a system. Put it at the top of your “to do” list, Mr. Fitzgerald. Work on it until it gets done — period. It affects so many people. Please address my letter.

Sheila Thomas




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