Washington County Reassessment in Progress
By Susan M. Key
Washington County is undergoing a countywide reassessment for the first time in more than thirty years. The county last revalued properties in 1979. Those values became effective for the 1981 tax year and have remained in effect ever since. Major factors such as inflation, population shifts, wide-spread development and deterioration have impacted the values of real property in the county making the 1981 assessments outdated and creating a lack of uniformity.
Washington County has hired Tyler Technologies to conduct the reassessment project. Tyler is currently sending data collectors through residential neighborhoods to ask questions at the door and then measure building exteriors. If no one is at home, the collector is leaving a questionnaire asking the occupant to provide additional information. Tyler will also visit commercial and industrial properties to collect similar information.
After the data collection is complete, Tyler will perform valuation analysis using computer-assisted mass appraisal techniques. Tyler’s appraisers will analyze this information to establish preliminary market values. Property owners will be notified of these new values beginning in February 2016. Tyler anticipates informal reviews of those values will take place in March and April 2016. If a property owner is not satisfied with the results of an informal review, a formal appeal may be filed with the Washington County Tax Revenue Department no later than September 1, 2016. The new values will be used to calculate tax bills beginning with the 2017 tax year. Until 2017, taxes will be levied on the basis of the old assessments.
Even though a property’s assessment may increase following the reassessment that does not necessarily mean that taxes will increase. As a result of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 2006, a school district cannot increase its taxes beyond a set index in the year following a reassessment. The index is based on the average of the percentage increase in the state-wide average weekly wage and the percentage increase in the employment cost index for elementary and secondary schools as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Currently, that index is approximately 2.7%, which means that a school district’s total revenue cannot exceed 102.7% of prior tax revenue as a result of the reassessment. Some taxpayers will see an increase and some will see a decrease. In the end, each taxpayer should end up paying their fair share of taxes.
Peacock Keller, LLP • 70 East Beau Street • Washington PA 15301 • 724-222-4520