FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Jesse White
State Rep. Brandon Neuman
House approves White, Neuman reassessment legislation
Temporary moratorium on reassessments implemented and two task forces created
HARRISBURG, June 27 – The House today approved a three-bill package aimed at fixing Pennsylvania's inconsistent and flawed system of conducting property reassessments.
State Rep. Jesse White's legislation (H.R. 343) would establish a state task force to examine the county reassessment process to:
· develop a set of uniform standards for county reassessment contracting;
· develop standards for disclosing the county's system of property valuation and assessment;
· develop a self-evaluation tool for counties to determine when a reassessment is warranted; and
· recommend a standard to be used for a statewide mandatory reassessment time frame.
White, D-Washington/Allegheny/Beaver, has been an outspoken critic of the current method of reassessments, and has introduced numerous proposals to reform the process. He said many counties are currently facing court-ordered reassessments that will cost taxpayers millions of dollars per county, including Washington County.
"Counties are being ordered to spend millions of dollars on reassessments, when the accuracy and method by which they are conducted are undeniably flawed," White said. "It's madness and it has to stop. We have to create some consistency in how reassessments are conducted to protect homeowners from devastating property tax increases and counties from being run into the ground to conduct these reassessments."
In addition to White's resolution, the House approved Washington County state Rep. Brandon Neuman's legislation (H.R. 344) that would create a task force to develop new procedures for collection and verification of reassessment data to ensure it is representative of the county's property inventory.
"Not only are reassessments extremely expensive, but we're spending millions of dollars to collect data that we know is highly unreliable and inaccurate," said Neuman, D-Washington. "This resolution would assemble a statewide panel to fix widespread systemic problems so that when counties do conduct reassessments, the data is actually representative of their properties."
The House also passed legislation (H.R. 1696) that would impose a temporary moratorium on countywide property tax reassessments until inequities in the current system are fixed. That bill is identical to a proposal offered by White (H.B. 166).
The task forces created in H.R.s 343 and 344 will report their findings within six months. The moratorium imposed by H.B. 1696, which still requires action by the state Senate and Gov. Corbett, is designed to implement the findings of the task force and will stay in effect until Nov.30, 2012.
Washington County is facing a court-ordered property reassessment as the result of lawsuits filed by the McGuffey and Washington School Districts, which has been estimated to cost Washington County $8 million in taxpayer dollars. White and Neuman emphasized that they are not opposed to conducting reassessments, but that they should not be conducted until the state establishes guidelines to make the process uniform and fair in order to protect homeowners and small business owners.
"We understand that a poorly conducted reassessment will be catastrophic for the people of Washington County, and Brandon Neuman and I will keep working until the last possible second to reform the reassessment process," White said. "We owe it to taxpayers to protect them from illegal property tax increases while still conducting a fair and accurate property reassessment."
Earlier this month, White and Neuman introduced a six-bill package aimed at providing greater protections for homeowners and establishing consistency for when and how reassessments are conducted to save taxpayer dollars.