Councilman Rips ‘Outlandish’ Property Values

The average property in the Chartiers Valley School District increased by 35 percent. Home values in Bridgeville and Heidelberg increased the most while Collier and Scott homes rose only moderately.

Bridgeville and Heidelberg property owners are the big losers , while the average home owner in Scott and Collier townships likely will see cuts to their schools taxes.

Nicholas Morelli, the school district’s business director, released the figures to Chartiers Valley Patch in order to give home owners a glimpse into how their property taxes will be affected.

The average property in the increased by 35 percent, meaning anyone below that level will probably see their school taxes reduced. In comparison, .

  • The biggest increase in the Chartiers Valley area was felt in Bridgeville, with all properties increasing by 42 percent and homes rising by 39 percent.
  • Heidelberg was next with all properties increasing by 35 percent and homes rising by 38 percent.
  • Scott Township was a mixed bag with all properties increasing by 33 percent, but home prices rising just 28 percent.
  • All of Collier’s properties rose by 35 percent while homes increased by just 25 percent.

The law will require all school districts and municipalities in Allegheny County to adjust their tax rates to remain revenue neutral. Still, the discrepancies between neighborhoods has at least one county official questioning the company hired to conduct the assessments.

“They didn’t do it right,” said county Councilman Mike Finnerty, who represents parts of the South Hills.

Finntery called Tyler Technologies and its subsidiary, Cole Layer Trumble, “incompetent” for the assessment that doesn’t seem to have any consistency between neighborhoods and communities.

“I have absolutely no confidence in Tyler Technologies right now,” Finnerty said. “Some of the mistakes are outlandish and I don’t know how anyone halfway competent could make (these) judgments.”

The county is spending an estimated $11 million on the reassessment and Finnerty thinks they should withhold any payments from the company until they “rectify the situation.” He said there has been some discussion by council members, but the decision on payments ultimately will be made by Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Finnerty acknowledged that it’s difficult to judge property values, but he said it should be done as fairly as possible. He understands why property owners are angry about the process and the new numbers.

“When it doesn’t look fair, it aggregates people, and it aggravates me,” he said. “Everyone should pay their fair share and it doesn’t look that way to me.”


Increases By Municipality

Bridgeville – 42 percent  (Homes increased 42 percent)

Collier Township – 35 percent  (Homes increased 25 percent)

Heidelberg – 35 percent  (Homes increased 38 percent)

Scott Township – 33 percent  (Homes increased 28 percent)

South Fayette - 34 percent

Upper St. Clair – 22 percent


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Mike Jones (Editor) February 24, 2012 at 05:06 AM
Follow these steps to calculate how much your property increased: Subtract your new assessment by the previous assessment ($150,000 – $100,000 = $50,000). Take the difference and divide by the previous value ($50,000 / $100,000 = 0.5). Take that number and multiply it by 100 (0.5 x 100 = 50). That equals a 50% increase to your property value.
Michelle February 24, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Finnerty is absolutely correct. This company has no idea what they are comparing properties to, I think Bridgeville taxes were hit the worst because they are using comparables to South Fayette's new developments. Our property was assessed based on comparables to houses not even in our community. They may have made the mistake because of the zip code being the same? In any case, what is the baseline for these assessments? There has been NO LOGIC to assessments in Allegheny County since 2002.
Mike Jones (Editor) February 24, 2012 at 06:06 PM
That equation is incorrect. It should be... ((New assessment - Old assessment) / Old assessment) x 100 = %
Stan Penkala February 24, 2012 at 07:47 PM
I got my reassessment this past week, too. I live in South Park and work in Bridgeville. My total assessment went up 10.0%, with land nearly doubling and house going down about $7,000. I looked at my information on the Allegheny County Real Estate page before and after the reassessments went in. So I can say with total assurance that the "comparables" in my file are exactly the same properties as were used in the last [2002] assessment. Some were in my immediate neighborhood, and some were elsewhere in South Park. I suspect that the new company did not make any changes in the "comparable" properties. After all, if those properties were comparable in 2002, there would be no reason to suspect that the properties changed materially in the intervening 10 years. I've got no complaints with my reassessment numbers.
Stan Penkala February 24, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Michelle, I think Finnerty is just a typical politician making noise about the assessments because he knows that people are going to see their assessments go up [in general], and by his being in sympathy with them, he hopes to get their votes come the next election. What's interesting is that he is an Allegheny County councilman since 2005, and he's on the Reassessment Board. Plus, he's a Democrat. That means to my thinking that he was working with Onorato, and now with the new County Executive [Fitzgerald] to prevent ANY reassessment taking place. The judge forced reassessments County-wide, and his District 4 in the South Hills is sure to be among those with a general increase in assessment, relative to the county as a whole. Did he vote to increase your Allegheny County taxes by 1 mill for THIS year [2012]. That will definitely increase your taxes this year. At this point, and until your community 'normalizes' the millage rate for the community and school district you're in, you don't know whether those taxes will go up or down.
Mike Jones (Editor) February 24, 2012 at 07:54 PM
With an assessment increasing by just 10 percent, I see no reason why you'd be unhappy. But the weighted numbers on land compared to building costs seems fishy. Is a 1/8-acre of property really worth more than a three-bedroom house with appliances, furnace and garage? I doubt it.
Stan Penkala February 24, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Mike, my total assessment went up by 10%. Land reassessment went up, house reassessment went down. House [built in 1968 - 44 yrs old] was 5.9 times land. Now it's 3.7 times land. A new section of housing went in at the end of the street, with selling prices [house + land] that run 2 to 4 times my total assessment. I think that's what drove up the land value so much. Won't know for sure until I can see what the other lots in my plan were assessed at, and how the normalization process goes. All I know right now is Fitzgerald and other Democrats on County Council voted to increase my Allegheny County taxes by 21% THIS year.
Mike Jones (Editor) February 24, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Stan... That was in reference to my mon's postage size parcel in Mt. Lebanon. It just doesn't make much sense. It makes you wonder if the mistakes are rampant across the county. And county council did raise taxes this year. We addressed that issue before and it's totally different than assessments. As Finnerty told me, people just want to pay their fair share. A lot of people are wondering if this assessment does that.
Mike P. February 24, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Or in equation form for those mathematically inclined: % Change = ((New Assessment - Old Assessment) / Old Assessment) x 100
Ryan Neve February 26, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Mike, I am a real estate Appraiser in Bridgeville and have been Helping home owners understand their values and supplying them with Appraisals to fight their assessment. I am one of the city's approved Appraisers for the 311 program and it is amazing how bad of a job that company did on the reassessment. You cannot have a mass appraisal done in an area that has such diverse predominant values with such close proximity between neighborhood boundaries (ie mount Lebanon/Dormont ). A mass Appraisal cannot distinguish between this detail. The sentiment I am getting from officials is that they want to get it right and are receptive to the Appraisals I have supplied for tax appeals. If I can help on any way or answer any questions, you can find me at neveappraisals.com Fee free to call with any questions.
Michelle February 26, 2012 at 10:09 PM
I wouldn't complain if my assessment went up 10% either. That's not the case in Bridgeville. The average was somewhere between 50 and 65%. That is ridiculious! I've spoken to people in Bridgeville that just refinanced and their assessment is now more than the actual value of their property. Can you explain that?? Stan, my comparables are completely different from the 2002 assessment, AND my 2006 re-assessment AND my 2008 re-assessment, (yes that is correct, my property in Bridgeville was re-assessed 2 times since I moved here in 2004!!) This re-assessments were all due to the 2002 ruling that properties in Allegheny County should be assessed at their sales price.
Jo February 27, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Mike, I about died when I got my assesment. Mine just about doubled what it was. I can not understand how the property could have more than doubled when it is not even large enough to park on. I have only been a home ower since 2006 and I am overwhelmed at what this company did to the residents of Bridgeville. If I use the formula above, mine went up 90%. In this economy, who can a anyone justify this type of increase? I do not see my pay getting that increase. I do not even get a raise to match the cost of living, so I work 2 jobs just to make ends meet.
Mike Jones (Editor) February 27, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Jo... My informal appeal is this morning and I plan on writing a little column about the process. The best (and really the only option) is to file those appeals and bring evidence on why you think your property is overvalued. Mike Finnerty told me he thinks the problems can be fixed, but unfortunately it's up to the property owner to do all the work. Good luck.
MD February 27, 2012 at 02:07 PM
How about property reform, the assessment process is a JOKE ! Waste of time and money,the county raises your taxes and the courts forces them to spend 11 million plus on this re-assessment.In 2002 they didn't get it right,spent all that taxpayers money then,and same thing now.By the way my property in Collier went up %55 on the new assessment,just back in NOV after we finally established a value from 3+ years in court now my house increased by $134,000.00 GO FIGURE. MD


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