Editor, The News:
I find it ironic that John Manna attacks the state Legislature over its inaction on property tax reform (The News, Dec. 4) when Mitchel Olszak and The News were the head cheerleaders for reassessment.
If I recall, wasn’t reassessment touted by the paper as the greatest thing since electricity in that it would correct all the unfairness and inequities of property taxes? Wasn’t it implied that it was “tax relief?”
Now that it’s long since said and done, it turns out that the foundation of it was a lie.
1. Reassessment would be revenue neutral — one-third of the taxes would increase, one-third would decrease and one-third would stay the same. What a load of manure. My local tax collector informed me that 90 percent of the property taxes in my township went up.
2. School districts could not receive more than a 10 percent windfall from reassessment. Then how come my own school taxes increased 30 percent? Who’s getting the other 20 percent? Nobody can give me an answer.
3. Why were some large acreage landowners, primarily farmers, assessed on the development value of their property rather than the actual use value? The county government telling a property owner that his or her land is worth a million dollars for tax purposes, unless they can prove otherwise, is unconstitutional; it’s tantamount to a “taking.”
Eliminating school property taxes is meaningless unless all property taxes are abolished as well. What kind of relief does a landowner get if school taxes disappear, but county taxes eventually double or triple? I suggest to ensure that would never happen that if county taxes remain in place any future hikes or reassessments be put to voter referendum.
(Editor’s note: Reassessment has made property taxation in Lawrence County more fair and equitable. Multiple appeals processes were and still are available for those who believe their properties were overassessed.
While reassessment can affect the taxes paid by individual property owners — either raising or lowering them — the process is revenue neutral. If taxes rise overall, it is a consequence of municipalities or school districts spending more, not a result of reassessment.
Owners of large tracts of agricultural or forest lands are eligible for property tax relief under Pennsylvania’s Clean and Green Act, so long as they do not develop their property.)
Editor, The News: