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Pittsburgh Public Schools solicitor wants to sue to force property reassessment

Pittsburgh Public Schools solicitor wants to sue Allegheny County to force property reassessment
Pittsburgh Public Schools solicitor wants to sue Allegheny County to force property reassessment 02:24

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Everyone in Allegheny County may soon have their properties reassessed if the solicitor of the Pittsburgh Public Schools district has his way.

Solicitor Ira Weiss wants to sue Allegheny County to force a reassessment of all properties.

"It's time to stop this madness," Weiss said. 

Pittsburgh Public Schools is considering whether to sue Allegheny County in an attempt to force a countywide property reassessment after its solicitor warned a financial crisis is imminent. 

"It is a disaster entirely the making of the previous county administration ... for not conducting a reassessment," Weiss said. 

Weiss has introduced a resolution to the PPS school board asking for permission to sue the county.

"I am confident it will get favorable consideration to it," Weiss said. 

Weiss says the district is facing a financial crisis because of a landslide of property tax assessment appeals primarily involving office buildings in Downtown Pittsburgh which cleared out during the pandemic.

Taking advantage of a new formula to arrive at those assessments, dozens of distressed building owners are getting massive reductions in their property tax bills and many are owed refunds from the school district, city and county.  

Weiss says the district was forced to pay back $10 million in real estate revenue over the past several months and added it may not be long until it increases to $20 million.

"There's been a decline in market value because of vacancy rates and other issues which impact retail business and hospitality business," Weiss said.

But Pittsburgh Public Schools believes these assessment reductions are too extreme and that a countywide reassessment will restore fairness to the assessment system and stabilize its tax base.  

"The school district is reliant upon the real estate tax," Weiss said. 

"I think the district is facing some difficult choices with regard to programs and personnel," he added. 

If the measure passes, the board will reach out to County Executive Sara Innamorato first about a voluntary reassessment before proceeding with the lawsuit. There hasn't been a reassessment in Allegheny County since 2012.

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