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What Your New County Assessment Means

Preliminary numbers show assessed values in Upper St. Clair went up 21.8 percent, according to the township manager.

and mailed to southern residents this week, many Upper St. Clair residents have been worried and panicked. Most assessments in Upper St. Clair increased, but what does that mean for you?

According to Manager Matthew Serakowski, we won't know how it will affect 2013 taxes until the township's tax rate is set in Dec. 2012.

The key number to focus on right now is how much the assessed values increased in the township as a whole.

Preliminary numbers show those values went up 21.8 percent. In other words, the total assessed evaluation went up to $2,054,727,832 from $1,686,740,170 when the last assessments were made in 2002.

To put it simply, if your assessed value went up more than 21.8 percent, you will probably be paying more taxes in 2013. If it went up less than 21.8 percent, then your taxes could go down.

Click here to find out your new assessment value.

However, that 21.8 percent number will likely go down after appeals have been filed. In 2002, the number went down by 5 percent after appeals.

"If your assessment went up by 50 or 100 percent, either something's wrong or you haven't been paying your fair share," Serakowski said.

If you don't think your assessment value is right—perhaps because the wrong number of bedrooms was listed or because it's different from comparable homes in your area—you must file an appeal.

Allegheny County Councilman Vince Gastgeb advises residents who are unhappy with their new assessments to file an informal and formal appeal.

"As inconvenient as it is, I think you have to do it," he said. "I feel the numbers are bad numbers. But so my legislative authority has been stripped away."

Gastgeb and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald are planning a town hall meeting about the assessments for Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon residents at 7:30 p.m. on March 8 at Bethel Park High School. At the end of the meeting, Gastgeb said they plan to break out tables and meet with residents one-one-one to help with the appeals process.

"I'm in customer service mode to help constituents," Gastgeb said. "My position now is how to offer the best options to residents."

The informal challenges will be accepted until March 7, 2012, and April 2, 2012, is the cutoff for formal appeals.

An informal review/challenge is a one-on-one meeting between a property owner and a representative of the county Office of Property Assessments. Property owners may provide corrections to property characteristics and bring pictures and written documentation supporting a change in the 2013 assessment value. Property owners are reminded that corrections to property characteristics do not automatically result in value changes, and in some cases, a county assessor may visit a property to verify data and may adjust the value up or down based on what he or she observes.

Gastgeb said the informal appeals are for glaring mistakes and obvious discrepancies.

Click here to schedule an informal review.

A formal appeal is a quasi-judicial hearing before the county Board of Property Assessments Appeals & Review. The formal hearing provides property owners and/or the three applicable taxing bodies (municipality, school district and county) an opportunity to challenge a property's assessed value. Property owners, other interested parties and the three taxing bodies may present evidence at the formal appeal hearing. The board will increase, decrease or sustain the assessed value based on evidence presented at the formal hearing.

Gastgeb suggested residents request the hearing take place at nearby Kane Hospital in Scott Township so residents don't have to drive to downtown and can park for free.

Click here for more information on scheduling a formal review.

Upper St. Clair Township employees put together a list of frequently asked questions and answers on the township website to help residents. A copy of the list is also available under the photo above.

Editor's Note: reports that home property values in Bridgeville rose by 42 percent; home property values in Heidelberg rose by 38 percent; home property values in Scott Township rose by 28 percent; and home property values in Collier Township rose by 25 percent.

What are your thoughts on the new Allegheny County assessments? Did your assessment increase or decrease? Tell us in the comments.

Jay Bahr February 24, 2012 at 03:11 PM
It seems the approach Allegheny County is taking to get their budgets under control is to raise taxes so everyone moves out!! With zero residents, they won’t have to pay for police, fire, teachers and public works. Maybe there is actually logic to this madness??? If I hear one more politician says “pay your fair share” they should be thrown out of office through the window!
robert redinger jr February 24, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Agreed! It is asolutely ridiculous. My assessed value went up 63%!!!
Bob Haver February 24, 2012 at 05:27 PM
My kids are done with school in a couple of years and I will move out of the county the day they graduate. I am already looking for jobs in other states. I am fortunate to be a professional with many options for jobs, and this makes the Pittsburgh area very unattractive to me right now. I was pleasantly surprised when I moved here due to the region and its people, but policies like this are pushing me out the door.

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