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Formal Assessment Appeal Was Easy

The process for my formal Allegheny County property reassessment appeal was painless and hopefully will net results. What's your experience been like?

I was expecting a dogfight heading into my formal appeal for Monday morning.

Instead, the process with my assessment hearing officer was painless and went through with barely a whimper from either one of us.

I arrived about 30 minutes early for my hearing at Kane Hospital near the in Scott. Rather than waiting around for a while, the assessment officer signed me in and took me to a room with several cubicles doubling as hearing rooms.

Without a lawyer–or even a certified appraisal–I presented my evidence and photos of. I also showed evidence that other homes were selling in 2011 for what I thought the value of my property should be marked by the county.

I’m not sure if I made an impression until the assessment officer asked when I purchased my home. It was near the time of when the assessment values were considered valid, so he took that as part of the evidence and agreed to recommend to the board of assessments that my property be lowered by about 5 percent.

I was in and out in less than 15 minutes.

I’ll learn in a few months whether my property assessment will officially be reduced. But the process of the formal appeal was easy, and hopefully it ultimately will turn out to be successful.

I don’t know if the same can be said for other property owners.

Have you had a formal appeal on your property reassessment? If so, tell us in the comments how it went so others who haven’t had a hearing yet can know what to expect.

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Arleen Wheat August 14, 2012 at 01:25 PM
I am awaiting my formal hearing. I did however have an informal hearing. The result of that informal hearing was postmarked and mailed before the actual date of my hearing. My assessment was lowered by only $3,000. They made a decison before I even had a chance to be heard. None of the information that was changed or submitted by the informal hearing officer was entered into the Property Assessment website. It was a waste of my time. I needed to take time off work and a decision was rendered before my actual informal hearing date and time.
D Baran August 14, 2012 at 01:55 PM
And I am still waiting for answers as to why land values have in most cases doubled and for some tripled! The entire process is a circus!
Mike Jones (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 02:05 PM
I felt like the formal appeal was more productive that the informal appeal because everything is on the record, evidence is submitted and the assessment officer makes an actual recommendation. Hopefully that carries some weight with the assessment board.
Mike Jones (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 02:08 PM
None of this makes sense. All we can do is to work with the county to correct the mistakes/problems. Sadly, our tax dollars were sent to a company that--in my opinion--raided our coffers and left town without actually doing the job.
rose altvater August 14, 2012 at 02:59 PM
How could my assessment have tripled ?? All I did was plant a few new shrubs ! LOL This whole process is shameful and ridiculous.. .
D Baran August 14, 2012 at 03:05 PM
I agree, Mike. We are all left hostage to a system that isn't working and hasn't worked for years and then to have a company come in, take our tax dollars and then not be able to provide information to homeowners as to how values were determined. The discrepancies in values (both land and building) throughout the county are rampant and make no sense!
Arleen Wheat August 14, 2012 at 03:24 PM
So I am still perplexed as to why an informal hearing was necessary if the formal hearing is the one that really counts and where your concerns are heard. After taking off a half day from work, I now have to take more time off and I will be hiring an attorney. It's shameful to do this to the taxpayers of this County. Particularly in light of a process and system that is flawed!
Bill August 14, 2012 at 03:40 PM
They agreed with me at the informal assessment but when I received my notice they only reduced my assessment by $3000.00, a far cry from my request. A complete waste of my time. Waiting for the formal appeal
Mike Jones (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 04:08 PM
According to the P-G, half of property owners received some reduction to their assessments. Maybe it was to weed out some property owners if the problem could be solved quickly. But I agree that it was mostly a waste of time.
LC August 15, 2012 at 04:18 AM
I agree this whole re-assessment is a joke. They basically raised the value of the lots to around 40k regardless of the size or usability of the yard. They seem to arbitrarily assign building values. It makes no sense. You will have no problem finding houses in Allegheny County that are assessed for less than what they sold in 2011, 2010 and even 2009. I was also disappointed with the informal appeal. We had recent comparables of houses that sold in last 1-2 years and showed problems with the building value of our house. The assessment officers at the informal appeal seemed to agree and entered much of it into their database right there. They also scanned everything we brought. But we got no reduction based on the informal appeal. The best part is they don't give a reason or explanation. Just show the numbers on the findings letter. I was told by one of the assessment officers that the best thing to do is to get a certified appraisal. I was also told this on the phone when we asked about scheduling a formal appeal. But that is an additional expense and just not sure it is worth it becuase appraisals are subjective too.
LC August 15, 2012 at 04:22 AM
If anyone got the results from a formal appeal, I hope you will comment on whether it was successful. Also do you think a certified appraisal is necessary to get a reduction?
Mike Jones (Editor) August 15, 2012 at 11:37 AM
It will probably be two or three months before I hear about my results. And as I've said before, I'm not sure a certified appraisal will do much good because all of the values are so goofy. There were some homes in my neighborhood that were assessed 5% less than mine but sold in 2011 for 10% more than what mine is worth. I don't get it.
LC August 15, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I noticed the same thing when researching homes in our area. There is absolutely no accountability with the current system. At the appeals, people they take all of the information arguing for a reduction, but someone else reviews it and makes the decision. No reason or explanation is given.
Mike Jones (Editor) August 15, 2012 at 01:10 PM
The best evidence, in my opinion, is to find any homes in your area that are similar to yours and sold from June 2008 to June 2011. That seems to be the only way to prove your case.
LC August 15, 2012 at 01:16 PM
I noticed the same thing when researching homes in our area. At the appeals, people they take all of the information arguing for a reduction, but someone else reviews it and makes the decision. No reason or explanation is given. There is absolutely no accountability with the current system. And the school districts are going to rake it in this year. I haven't seen any reported information about a reduction in the millage rate yet for 2013. There is supposed to be a 5% max windfall protection such that school districts have to reduce the millage rate. However, several people told me their assessment officers said that school districts are already applying for approval to allow for >5% tax increase.My assessment value increased over 30%. If formal appeals are still going on, when are they gonig to decide and publish the new 2013 millage rate?
Mike Jones (Editor) August 15, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I live in South Fayette so my school district taxes have gone up more than 5% three of the past five years. We were going to get hammered either way.
DE33 September 01, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Hi Mike I live in SF also - this entire system is a mess and I've decided to blow off my hearing on Tuesday after reading the posts here. What a waste of time - its better to continue to pressure politicians.
Mike Jones (Editor) September 02, 2012 at 10:42 PM
@DE33... I wouldn't blow it off if you think you have a credible case. It didn't take very long and could save you quite a bit of money for years.

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