Thursday, December 29, 2011

Assessing Re-assessments

If you're like me, you're 5' 11", named "Steve", live in the city and received a notice of Property Reassessment from Allegheny County as a belated Christmas present this week.  (Frankly, I would have much rather received the three French Hens or the eight maids a-milking, but the County's on a shoe string budget, so I won't begrudge them for that.)  If you're even more like me, you opened up your assessment and noticed two things: (1) that you now the proud owner of the Taj Mahal (or at least close enough for tax assessment purposes) and (2) the County is in absolutely no way responsible for this *COURT MANDATED* reassessment. 

Indeed, if you don't have him on your junk mail list already, you probably also recently got a letter from Hizzoner Luke Ravenstahl informing you that he had nothing to do with the reassessments, so don't blame him when your taxes go up and he is forced by the Courts to roll around naked in the resultant piles of windfall cash.  I'm sure that Luke is just sobbing himself to sleep every night with the thought that his short term budget problems are temporarily relieved. 

Even more not to blame are the folks like Dan Onorato who fought so hard to keep assessments from incrementally ticking up so that one day in the future when he was out of office, the whole damned thing would blow up in everyone elses' faces.  (Note to Highmark: make sure that any golden parachutes handed to Danny Boy are long term pay outs.)  But you know, hey: at least they can say that they never raised property taxes. 

Even even more not to blame are all the people that paid $X for houses who are now shocked and appalled that the County believes that their homes are actually valued at $X like their deed transfer tax said they were.  Where does the county get the nerve to trust that the amount that a buyer is freely willing to pay for a good is actually indicative of its value?  Are we in some sort of Communist dictatorship where market value is determined by some all controlling "invisible hand"? 

The message here is clear: please ignore all economic and political realities and just be outraged. 

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