In Scent of a Woman with Al Pacino, a young student was faced with the difficult decision of following the laws of his school by informing on classmates or following his own honor and not ‘ratting’ on his friends.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is in a similar position. On one hand, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that the 2002 base year system is unconstitutional and a court order is in place mandating the 2012 Allegheny County property reassessments. On the other hand, Fitzgerald has strong personal convictions where he has refused to abide by the court’s orders and has stated publicly that he is prepared to go to jail.
We would not want to be in his position. However, the sole question should be: What is best for Allegheny County residents? The Allegheny County Tax Assessment experts - Flaherty & Fardo - weigh in.
We are not in favor of the 2012 reassessments, unless they give property owners the chance to appeal before the property taxes are actually due. However, arguments could be made that Fitzgerald’s actions are not in the best interest of Allegheny County residents.
You need to remember why the reassessment was ordered: because lower income properties were being taxed higher than they should be. Also, many affluent properties were underassessed and thereby increased the millage rate to others. It was because of these inequities that the courts ruled that the 2002 base year system violated the Pennsylvania Constitution.
I do not know whether we can compare the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to the “Baird School”, or whether Fitzgerald “is still worthy of calling himself a Baird Man,” but as a taxpayer of Allegheny County, I respect Fitzgerald for standing up for what he truly believes.
On the other hand, I think it is wrong for the top official in Allegheny County to say that he does not have to follow the law.
Regardless of your position, it is not in the best interest of Allegheny County residents to experience this type of chaos (again), or spend millions and millions of taxpayer money without a clearer plan. This has to be one of the greatest debacles and stand-offs in the history of Allegheny County, and I for one am enjoying the show. I just hope if Rich Fitzgerald wins, he yells: “whoo ah!”.
If you have questions about Allegheny County tax assessments, get in contact with Flaherty & Fardo for a free consultations. Our professional knowledge of tax assessments and the complexity of the Allegheny County tax assessment system allows us to provide you with the best legal advice in Pittsburgh.