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Reassessment Support in Blair County

County Officials back effort.
ALTOONA  - It has been more than fifty years since there has been a county wide property reassessment in Blair County.  But now support is building for an updating of property values in the County.  Supporters say the move would lead to more fair tax system.
 
 Reassessment has been a hot topic in Blair County for a number of years. The last reassessment was done more than fifty years ago and there are plenty of people who say the current property assessments in Blair County are just unfair.

 Reassessment determines the value set for any property in the county and that values determine how much the County can collect in property taxes.
 Because Blair County has a current year deficit of one and a half million dollars and a limited ability to raise taxes, the Commissioners are now supporting reassessment.

"But costs  just continue to out strip the revenue that  we are able to generate  on the property taxes  and no body like reassessment   but it has just become  a fact of life that if we are going to continue   to move forward we have to   do this."
    
Current property values in Blair County are based on a 1958 assessment and there is interest in updating those numbers.
    
"With each passing  year,  you are trying to look back it is almost as if you are going into a time machine to look back  and figure out    what would this property be worth  back   then.   Obviously the further you get away from the reality of the assessment, the more difficult that is going to be."
 
The value of a reassessment was recognized by members of the Altoona Government Study Commission.
 
"But ultimately what it will do is make the bills much fairer to everybody.   So that there is nobody sort of getting away with paying too little in taxes or benefitting for an assessment that is older than I am."   

Critics of the current assessments say they have resulted in a system that is wildly inaccurate and in many cases unfair.  Commissioner Diane Meling says she has the same concern.
 
"As we hear tax appeals every year, we are hearing more and more property owners come in and complain that perhaps  their house is  smaller than their neighbors house but they are paying more taxes.  And that is an issue of fairness."
  
The Blair County Commissioners are currently talking to a firm that has handled reassessment projects in other neighboring Pennsylvania Counties.  It is estimated that a reassessment would take about two years to complete and require county borrowing to cover the cost.   But County leaders say the move would go a long way toward helping to insure that public safety services can be funded in the future.



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