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Reassessment 2012: Does Rich Fitzgerald Really Believe His Own Message?

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | January 15, 2012

No. 787

Photo by Gary Lehman

According to today’s Post Gazette, Rich Fitzgerald says that he will let the current reassessment go through once there is a uniform statewide reassessment program. He says it is unfair for Allegheny County to have assessments based upon current sales data, while the other counties use historic data that, in some cases, is based upon sales 40 or 50 years ago.

Does he really believe that a statewide reassessment, based upon current sales, would solve his urgent political problem?  How could he?  The uproar has not been created because homeowners are angry about the disparity between Allegheny County assessment values and those in other counties.  It exists because City property owners  who received significant increases in assessments are afraid that they will probably translate into substantial tax increases.

If the same thing was happening in Butler or Washington or Westmoreland Counties, it would’t change anything. As a matter of fact, something similar is happening in Washington County due to litigation inspired by the Allegheny County experience.  It is probably only a matter of time before the trend spreads to other counties.

I cannot believe that Fitzgerald, who was smart enough to get through Carnegie Mellon, build a successful business and a big-time political career, doesn’t get it.  I saw a fox running along Saw Mill Run the other night and it bore a strong family resemblance to Mr. Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald’s foxy strategy is the same as the one successfully employed by his predecessor.  He wants to postpone by any means possible, fair or foul, the inevitable implementation of a reassessment until he is out of office.  Betting against the legislature’s adopting statewide legislation — which is what he is really doing — is a perfectly safe wager.  The legislators from outside Allegheny County are as likely to vote for a statewide reassessment as they are to voluntarily commit any other form of political suicide. And so, the fox thinks, he is safe.






CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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