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Nonprofit Wants Tweaks for Some Property Reassessments

A Pittsburgh nonprofit is asking an Allegheny County judge to order "tweaks" to the county's property reassessment, in order to make the process more equitable between affluent areas and poor communities.

The Community Justice Project (CJP) argued poor neighborhoods were given disproportionate property value increases in the reassessment. The group wants Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick to write an order that would force the county's reassessment contractor to lower the new property values in those areas.

A CJP report found reassessment inequity in 22 of 45 school districts in the county. However, the findings of the report were disputed by the county's chief assessor, who said the CJP analysts used a broader range of home sales data than the reassessment team.

Allegheny County Solicitor Andy Szefi said the county opposes any court-ordered tweaks to the new property values.

"Could it be tweaked? It could be tweaked in an infinite number of ways, all the time, to move some numbers here and move some numbers there. Every time you do one of those tweaks, someone's going to be happy, and someone else isn't going to be happy," said Szefi. "You're going to get accused of 'spot assessing' certain neighborhoods without addressing other neighborhoods."

Judge Wettick suggested that CJP meet privately with the county reassessors to make sure they're working within the same parameters. A follow-up hearing would be scheduled if CJP still finds inequity using the reassessors' data.

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