If you’re wondering why you haven’t received a new Washington County property assessment after your August hearing, you’ll soon know the outcome.
Appeals board decisions from hearings convened by Sept. 1 were being mailed Thursday and today. The results of appeals won’t be appearing on the county website, however, until November, so the curious won’t know unless a property owner reveals the information.
“We’re not refreshing the website data yet,” said Bradley Boni, Washington County chief assessor, Thursday morning.
The last day for appeals hearings is Oct. 31, and Boni expects to tell Tyler Technologies Inc., with whom the county has a $6.9 million contract, to update the website after hearings conclude.
Between 5,000 and 6,000 hearings were scheduled, and although the daily no-show rate continues to be about 25 percent, the assessment appeals boards, to fit everyone in before the Oct. 31 deadline, will convene evening proceedings beginning Sept. 21 and Saturday hearings beginning Sept. 24.
Starting Sept. 21, hearings are scheduled to take place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, and Saturday sessions will be either 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Boni said.
All five three-person boards will be following the six-day schedule. The commissioners voted over the summer to pay each board member $30 an hour for workdays Aug. 10 through 31.
“The commissioners have allotted resources to have boards work evenings and weekends, and that’s going to be very helpful,” said Blane Black, solicitor for the Washington County tax revenue office. Board members have been arriving early, staying late, reviewing information before a day of hearings and taking work home.
“It’s grind mode now,” said Boni, who must certify assessments for all properties in the county by Nov. 15, so the county, municipalities and school districts can make budget preparations. The county’s and municipalities’ budget deadline is Dec. 31; school districts, which operate on a fiscal year identical to Pennsylvania’s, have a deadline of June 30, 2017.
Black called the timetable “crucial” because of its effect on the spending plans, which are based on the amount of property tax revenue.
The deadline for property owners to formally appeal was Aug. 10, but at least one property owner from Peters Township who asked the court to give him leeway was granted permission.
Mark Hoskins of 124 Windermere Court, McMurray, was represented by a Pittsburgh attorney. Black said he did not oppose Hoskins’ request because “the fellow was not getting his mail,” and President Judge Katherine B. Emery signed an order allowing Hoskins’ formal assessment appeal to proceed as if he had met the deadline.
Black said he learned two other cases were presented in motions court, but he was not notified in advance of the court proceeding, nor has he been told of the outcome.
Because of the reassessment, the appeal deadline was Aug. 10, the same day hearings began. In years without a reassessment, the deadline is Sept. 1.
“There shouldn’t be any more,” Black said of tardy appeals a full week after Sept. 1.
Washington County has about 120,000 parcels of land, and no countywide reassessment was conducted for 35 years. The Washington and McGuffey school districts went to court in 2008 demanding a reassessment, and the commissioners awarded a contract to Tyler Technologies in August 2013 after they ran out of legal options.