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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 28, 2019 08:24 AM
From: Senator Gene Yaw
To: All Senate members
Subject: Countywide Reassessments
In the near future, I plan on introducing legislation that will require counties - that are subject to chapter 88 in Title 53 - to conduct regular countywide reassessments every four years beginning with the 2020 calendar year.

Countywide property reassessment is a problem that has long troubled Pennsylvania local and state government officials. Since the state’s beginnings as a colony, county and state officials have sought to equitably administer local property taxes. Ever since, it has produced a continual litany of complaints, criticisms, and legislative reform efforts. Now, more than 325 years later, Pennsylvania local government officials are still wrestling with the assessment of property to effectively, efficiently and equitably administer the real property tax.

Since there is no state requirement for counties to conduct regular countywide reassessments, it is not uncommon for decades to pass between reassessments. At least 20 Pennsylvania counties have assessments that date back before 2000.

County officials have delayed reassessments because of the costs that are involved and the potential residential backlash. When a county does not regularly conduct countywide reassessments, inequities in property tax burdens develop and the overall tax base decreases, which, in turn, may place fiscal hardships on local governments.

Often lost in the flurry of complaints and appeals following countywide reassessments are the potential benefits of reassessments. A study conducted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania found that counties undertaking countywide reassessments on a regular, reoccurring schedule achieve multiple benefits for the county. Reassessments enable counties to derive more tax revenue per mill, thereby lowering tax rates and decreasing the overall residential tax burden. Additionally, countywide reassessments were shown to improve property taxation equity and uniformity across the county. For the county residents, countywide reassessments are beneficial because they lead to improved local economic conditions, such as higher employment, higher housing values, and higher median incomes.

Thank you for your consideration and please contact my office if you have any questions regarding this proposed legislation.