A two-year effort to overturn a court-ordered property reassessment came to a decisive end for Beaver County.
Supreme Court Denies Reassessment Appeal Request
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied a request to hear Beaver County’s appeal of a 2017 ruling by the Court of Common Pleas ordering county officials to begin a process to reassess all taxable properties. There are approximately 96,000 parcels in the county.
“Since the county has exhausted all legal options through the court system, the county now has no choice but to move forward with the reassessment process,” Beaver County chief solicitor Garen Fedeles said in a statement representing the board of commissioners. “The process from beginning to end will take years to complete, and we will work diligently to keep the property owners of Beaver County informed throughout its entirety.”
Beaver County to Hold First Reassessments since 1982
Beaver County Court of Common Pleas judges John McBride and Dale Fouse ruled the county standards to assess property values did not accurately reflect the current market value of the parcels. Beaver County has not conducted a reassessment since 1982.
Fedeles said the county will receive a timetable for the assessment project from the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas judges later this month. County officials will now look to sign a contract with a company to handle the property evaluations. Those officials have indicated the project could cost an estimated $10 million.
The county was required to have the assessment completed by mid-June 2020 under the Court of Common Pleas ruling.
Commonwealth Court denied the county’s initial appeal following the decision by Judges McBride and Fouse. This prompted the request for the state Supreme Court to hear the case. Apparently, the state’s highest court decided the case law that exists in the reassessment matter made the Beaver County appeal moot.
“The Tax System in Beaver County is Broke”
Previous appeal attempts by Allegheny, Washington and Indiana counties met with similar results. Unlike those counties, where suits were filed by school districts seeking new property values, the Beaver County reassessment bid was launched by land developer Charles Betters. His suit, filed in 2015, claimed “the tax system in Beaver County is broke” and a reassessment would encourage development and create more accurate values for the county’s properties.
Allegheny County conducted a property reassessment in 2012 while Washington County completed its evaluation of 120,000 properties in 2016 for the 2017 tax year. The Washington County project cost approximately $8.75 million and 9,500 property owners filed appeals.