If you are someone who is tired of unresponsive government, you have to love what is presently going on in Allegheny County.
A lawsuit was filed by the nonprofit Community Justice Project on behalf of 50,000 homeowners who paid too much Allegheny County property tax and did not have the right to a quick appeals process.
This lawsuit asserts that the county’s decision not to reassess properties since 2002 resulted in a large number of unfairly high tax bills.
As arguments were heard in the lawsuit, it appears that the real problem was that Allegheny property taxes on homes that were rapidly increasing during the housing boom, weren’t high enough. This left other taxpayers with flat home values paying a disproportionate share of the bill.
Obviously, Allegheny County is in an absolute panic over this lawsuit.
Allegheny County officials are worried not only about the budget shortfall that would result if the county had to refund four years worth of overpaid back property taxes, but also the administrative nightmare of trying to track down those who may have owned homes four years ago who are now entitled to refunds.
As usual, county officials are coming up with all kinds of reasons why those property tax refunds shouldn’t be made. And none of their arguments in the trial seem to have anything to do with the fact that they simply haven’t kept up with property values in Allegheny County and maintained a fair and equitable appeals process.
It’s obvious that if Allegheny County had kept a closer tab on home values, they wouldn’t be in the situation they currently face with this lawsuit.
Other counties across the state of Pennsylvania are closely watching the outcome of this lawsuit.
That’s because any county that did not do a good job of keeping up with home values could find their own county facing a lawsuit seeking millions in refunds as well.
Stay tuned for the final outcome on this lawsuit.
It could send shockwaves across other county governments in Pennsylvania and in the rest of the country as well.