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County Wide Reassessment

Blair County moving toward updating property values.
ALTOONA -  For the first time in more than 50 years, Blair County is moving toward a County wide Reassessment.   The move   is expected to clear the way for higher property taxes   in future years and lead to a more fair property tax system.
 WTAJ Reporter Kevin Flanigan has been looking into the proposed Reassessment   an joins us with more on with more on how it could affect your bottom line.

John / Carolyn,
While there are state limits on how much property taxes can go up immediately as a result of a County's reassessment,  it is clear that this move could  lead to higher property taxes eventually.   But the key to a successful reassessment is making sure that everyone pays their fair share.
The property values in Blair County are currently based on a reassessment that was done back in 1958. Because those numbers have not been updated in so long, critics of the current system say who pays how much in property taxes is often unfair.

"Its difficult to enforce, its difficult to keep it accurate, its an expensive tax and fundamentally there is some unfairness particularly as it applies to our seniors."

Not much has changed in around the Blair County Assessment office in the basement of the Hollidaysburg courthouse over the past half century.  Property records are still kept in drawers of file cards that indicate how much individual properties were worth the last time there was  county wide reassessment was  done.  Some of those who work with this system say it time changes were made.
"Yes i believe it is just because    there have been no adjustments made,    or modifications made   for over fifty years, to the taxing base, and that has created the inequities as we see them today."  
Because those numbers have not been updated in so long, critics of the current systems who pays how much in property taxes can be very uneven.    
"Just  here in the County,   We know every year   when we are hearing our tax appeals    we are hearing more and more complaints, some body will come in and say   well gee,  I have the smallest house,    the smallest lot in my neighborhood,    but  am paying more taxes than anybody  else.  Why is that?"   

To address those uneven tax bills and assessments, Blair County Officials say they will hire a firm that will visit, and place a  new values on all  66,000   property parcels   in  Blair County.   People who battled a Reassessment in Bedford County say the lack of property visits was one reason they had so many reassessment problems.
"There was no on site visit on a lot of these properties.   I mean it was done by satellite imagery that kind of stuff and there is nothing like boots on the ground to be fair to every body involved."

Reassessment is controversial because to make sure everyone pays their fair share, some tax bills go up and others go down.  The goal remains to collect property taxes is a fair and equitable way.  But with current values based on information from the 1950's, plenty or property owners are likely to be upset by the changes.

"Its going to be a big problem  because a lot of people are going to say wait a minute,   my taxes  were only this much   and now they are here   and my house is only valued this,   but you have got to keep in mind how many years later it is   and how much properties have gone up in value."   

Because the County, School Districts and many municipalities all depend on property taxes as a key source of revenue, any effort to   update property values will be controversial.  That because the new numbers can lead to higher taxes.
But supporters of the move say their expenses have gone up over the past half century and it time property values reflect that.  Any   Blair County Reassessment would take about two and half years to complete.

That means that new property values could be in place for the 2017  property tax collection if County Commissioner decide to move ahead with Reassessment in Blair County .
Kevin Flanigan WTAJ News.

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