Letter to House Commerce Committee expressing concerns with HB 1213, prohibiting assessment appeals

May 8, 2017

PA House of Representatives
House Commerce Committee

 

Dear Representative,

On behalf of the 4,500 elected officials who govern the commonwealth’s public school districts, we are expressing our deep concerns with House Bill 1213, sponsored by Rep. Warren Kampf. This legislation would greatly restrict the rights of school districts and municipalities to conduct appeals of under-assessed property.

By limiting the right to initiate appeals, particularly with large commercial properties, school districts in your district could experience losses in revenue that will be very significant. This restriction in the ability to generate future local revenues will harm schools that are already grappling with overall declining state aid and unfairly shift the property tax burden to homeowners.  We urge you to contact your districts today and discuss this issue.

Our members are very much aware that all other property owners in a school district have to bear the tax burden of under-assessed properties. Any property that is simply under-assessed for whatever reason inherently shifts the tax burden over to those property owners who are properly assessed in the form of increased millage rates.  House Bill 1213 would take away the only voice on behalf of other homeowners and businesses being forced to subsidize under-assessed properties – School Districts. This legislation will restrict school districts’ rights of uniform review of commercial properties.  Those commercial properties that are undervalued will not be billed for their fair share of school property taxes.

Issues with property assessment appeals by taxing bodies are merely a symptom of the state’s broken assessment laws. Pennsylvania’s property assessment system needs comprehensive reform. Because counties throughout Pennsylvania are not required to perform a regular reassessment, it could be decades before taxing bodies have any opportunity to realize additional revenues from ongoing redevelopment efforts and/or growth.  Without a reliable system for accurate reassessment of real estate throughout the Commonwealth, House Bill 1213 would leave many school districts without the ability to level the assessment system out with the only tool they have.   The proper approach is to fix the current system that makes these appeals necessary in the first place. This is why we call for mandatory reassessment and are glad to see that a joint group of legislators are working toward this goal.

I appreciate your time and attention to these matters. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at (717) 506-2450 x3337.

Sincerely,

John M Callahan, Assistant Executive Director