In January 17, 2017 , Judge Burr of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas ordered a county-wide reassessment for all real property in Delaware County. The County has been using 1998 “base year” values for all properties, which certain taxpayers alleged was no longer valid, because, among other things, that method ignored the housing boom of the 2000s and the consequent bust of 2008-2011 and because it failed to take into account that over a long period of time the value of certain neighborhoods rise and fall at different rates than the county wide average. Additionally, new developments of homes have been built in the county that were not in existence in 1998, and it was argued that it was improper to value such new construction based on 1998 “counterparts” that did not really exist.
In particular the appealing taxpayers alleged (and apparently proved) that newer homes were assessed at a higher percentage to their actual value than older homes and that more modestly valued homes were assessed at a higher percentage of their actual value than highly-priced homes. To put it simply, under the Pennsylvania constitution, property assessments for all properties are to bear a “uniform” relationship to the homes’ actual values. Thus, the allegation and proof that newer homes and more modestly priced homes are, on a relative basis, assessed differently than their older and more expensive counterparts, is a serious Constitutional problem. Judge Burr’s order for reassessment is the apparent result.
The new assessment numbers are to be in place as of January 1, 2021. A more detailed timeline for the process is to be submitted to the Court by the Board of Assessment Appeals on July 1, 2017, and notices, which will allow taxpayers to appeal their new assessments, should be issued in 2020.
In theory, the overall tax base should not increase as a result of a reassessment and the tax paid on average by homeowners also should not increase. However, this is obviously going to be good news for some property owners and bad news for others.
– Rod Fluck