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Fitzgerald: I’ll Use Base-Year for Tax Bills

Democratic County Executive candidate Rich Fitzgerald called on the Pittsburgh Public School District to "call off the dogs" when it comes to using new property values for 2012 tax bills.

"This backdoor tax increase… this is revenue grab for the school districts, it's not about fairness, it's not about stability," said Fitzgerald during a news conference Monday where he asked the Pittsburgh Public School District to send out tax bills based on current assessed values rather than new numbers still to be produced by Allegheny County.

"[B]ecause it is the only way to move forward that is fair to the city's taxpayers," said Fitzgerald. The Democratic from Squirrel Hill criticized the city school district and others who have been arguing in court for the reassessments.

Last week, Allegheny County Judge R. Stanton Wettick ordered the county to finish assessing properties within the city before finishing any other municipality. The order was made in an effort to help the city of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Public School District meet tighter tax bill deadlines.

Fitzgerald has been strongly against the court-ordered reassessment since the beginning. Instead, he supports a statewide assessment system. The state legislature must implement such a system. Its members have been unwilling to do so in the past.

"It's not about fairness and it's not about stability because quite frankly, if we put through this system and those numbers go out in a month or two, the instability that will exist both within the district, in trying to set a millage, and more importantly, for the tax payers of our city, will be hurtful," said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald says if he is elected he will send out county tax bills based on "base year" assessment numbers that have been in use for the last ten years. When asked if he thought it would be in violation of the court ruling that ordered all properties to be reassessed Fitzgerald responded, "It might be. I'm fighting on behalf of the taxpayer, I'm not representing the courts."