Fight against reassessment continues, group to appear in court

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A group of Blair County citizens, who continue to fight reassessment, will be in court Tuesday, hoping the judge will rule fairly as many residents continue to fight reassessment. 
 
They say commissioners need to rescind the certification and they’re taking the issue to court.
 
“We’re hoping that Blair County will be different from Indiana County, Bedford County, Adams County or Lackawanna County,” Aaron Ritchey said, president of Blair County Citizens Against Reassessment. “And I can go on and on because this process and this organization, which was previously called 21st Century, has a track record of basically the same situations in multiple counties.”
 
Ritchey said they’re asking the court to reverse the commissioners’ Dec. 2 certification and they want a review of the formal appeals process.
 
“I’ve spoken to real estate appraisers that are state licensed professionals that less than 20 percent of their appraisals have been accepted as evidence to establish fair market value, where routinely, in non-reassessment years that’s one of the base pieces of documentation that determine fair market value,” Ritchey said.
 
Ritchey added that the problem is nothing new. In 2010, the state legislative budget and finance committee pointed out flaws in reassessment and the mass appraisal process. They said the state legislature needed to address these issues, but nothing happened.  Ritchey said companies like Est, which is handling Blair County’s reassessment, are using it to their advantage.
 
“The fear of government is overwhelming and a lot of these people feel that whatever the government says is what it’s gonna be,” Ritchey said. “And they have a fear of challenging the government. They have a fear of challenging the process, and many, many people that I’ve spoken to, even very well educated people of substantial wealth, they fear punitive action challenging this.”
 
The court hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. County commissioners said they do not comment on pending litigation.

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