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School districts press court to begin Washington County reassessments

| Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012

Washington County should begin a court-ordered property reassessment despite a lingering legal appeal aimed at preventing it, an attorney representing two school districts said in court papers on Wednesday.

Washington County commissioners appealed to Commonwealth Court to overturn a lower court's Nov. 15 order to begin the reassessment process. The appeal automatically delays the lower court's order from taking effect while Commonwealth Court considers it.

Susan Mondik Key, the attorney representing McGuffey and Washington school districts, asked President Judge Debbie O'Dell Seneca of Washington County to lift the automatic delay so the reassessment can proceed.

The school districts sued the county in 2008 to force it to comply with an agreement to update property values. School districts rely heavily upon property taxes to generate revenue. Washington County last reassessed property in 1981.

County commissioners have fought a reassessment. They contend that paying $8 million to perform it is too expensive because the values could become obsolete in a few years. Commissioners have sought to delay a reassessment in hopes that the state Legislature would create uniform, statewide rules, but that hasn't happened.

Washington County officials have said they would contract with Dallas-based Tyler Technologies to perform the reassessment. Tyler is handling the $11 million reassessment in Allegheny County. Homeowners in Pittsburgh and Mt. Oliver have flooded phone lines with complaints and appeal requests since receiving their reassessment notices last week.

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