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Property Reassessment Contractor Threatens to ‘Step Away'

The Texas-based company hired by Allegheny County to reassess countywide property values may walk off the job, because it hasn't been paid in months.

"We may have to step away from the reassessment without finishing the process because we haven't been paid since December," said Wesley Graham of Tyler Technologies, at a reassessment court hearing. Graham said County Controller Chelsa Wagner won't authorize payments, although the county administration has budgeted them.

However, the Controller's office argued that it's well within its rights to withhold payments as it conducts an audit of Tyler Technologies. Brad Korinski, chief legal counsel for the Controller, said his office is questioning whether the company complied with the terms of its contract. Specifically, the Controller is looking into possible inequities between reassessments in poor neighborhoods versus affluent areas.

"It's oftentimes the case, with contracts that are this valuable, questions have been raised that the Controller can't simply release funds," said Korinski. "The role of the Controller is to scrutinize claims made against the county, and that's exactly what we're doing."

Korinski said the contract has been worth six to seven million dollars so far, but the Controller has held back the last $660,000 in payments.

"We're just taking a thorough review of the situation, and apparently they want some expedited special treatment to get paid, or they're threatening to bring the Tyler moving trucks in and leave, apparently, which I don't think is right," said Korinski.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick, who handles the reassessment, said the county could seek an order to have the Controller make the payments regardless of the audit.