On Tuesday, dozens of concerned and angry property owners attended a public meeting to get more answers on Blair County’s reassessment process.
Many of the people in attendance saw their property values double. One man accused one of the appraisers of being involved with a crime family as he called the whole process corrupt.
“It’s all about dollars,” another man said, frustrated. “That’s what I think. It’s all about dollars… what they can make.”
WTAJ News sat down with the VP/CTO of “Evaluator” the company hired by the county to do an independent appraisal.
“Blair County is not only the oldest value in the state, they have the worst values in the state,” says Timothy R. Barr. “The average error has been published as having sixty percent. That means $600 out of every $1,000 is paid by the wrong person in Blair county. County, municipal, school taxes are being paid for by the wrong person”
Barr has been appraising homes and working to make sure counties and property owners are paying a fair value in taxes for 30 years.
He said one of the biggest misconceptions about reassessment is that it is one big tax hike. Barr said there are special laws in place to make sure there is no revenue gained the first year.
“The county, municipalities, and school districts cannot make money on a countywide reassessment. If you’re taxes are going up someone else’s taxes are going to go down. It has to balance out,” said Barr.
The reassessment process is confusing and scary for many property owners concerned about how they will afford a tax increase. Barr is urging everyone to go through the informal review process. Those meetings are held daily at the Blair County Convention Center. After that you can then file up for a formal or informal appeal, but you must do so before the August 8th or 10th deadline. Double check your tax notice for your deadline date.
Barr said during this process they will be able to bring down the appraisal values.
The next public meeting will be held at the Blair County Convention Center on July 26 at 6:00 p.m. In the meantime we have provide a number of useful links to help property owners better understand the reassessment process.
Farm owners and people who own a lot of land are expected to face the biggest tax hike. In the 1970’s a law was passed in Pennsylvania to preserve farmland and forest land. It is called the Clean & Green Program. People that own ten or more acres of land can enroll in this program which allows farmers to pay on the use value of the land, not the market price.