Commissioners have until January to enter into a contract with a company to reassess all taxable properties in the county, according to an order issued today by Judge Dale Fouse.
The work must be completed by June 2022 with the reassessments going into effect in 2023.
Fouse’s ruling comes after a lengthy legal battle between county commissioners and developer CJ Betters, who filed litigation in Dec. 2015 alleging inequities with the county’s current tax system, which is based on assessments conducted in 1982. Commissioners fought the litigation all the way up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which earlier this month denied an appeal of a local court ruling that mandated a reassessment.
The initial ruling from 2017 required all properties be reassessed by June 2020 with the new tax bills taking effect in 2021. While the commissioners were advised it was unlikely they would be successful in fending off a reassessment, the county’s legal wranglings were successful in delaying the work until after November’s county elections. Commissioners Dan Camp and Tony Amadio are both seeking reelection, with Commissioner Sandie Egley running for county treasurer.
Betters is now asking the court to order the county to reimburse his unspecified legal expenses from the lengthy litigation; Fouse has scheduled a July 29 hearing to determine whether taxpayers will be required to cover his costs.
Commissioners have estimated the cost of reassessment could be upwards of $10 million. The county maintains no substantive reserve fund and will now likely be forced to float a bond to meet those expenses, adding to approximately $120 million in debt already outstanding. The county’s credit rating has repeatedly been downgraded in recent years due to what financial analysts have characterized as “persistent deficits” and “weak management,” increasing the costs of borrowing money.
What happened the last time there was a countywide reassessment? Read the fascinating history as compiled by BeaverCountian.com in its in-depth report: Will A Reassessment Rebellion Be Repeated In Beaver County? Revisiting The 1982 Revolt