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Second Chance Assessment Appeals Program Has Some Rule Changes

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- About 100,000 people in Allegheny County appealed their property reassessment last year.

If you're one of the unlucky ones who lost an appeal, you have until Monday to file another one. It's a second chance program being offered by the county.

But as KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan found out, the rules have changed for this go-round.

Frances Parker, of East Liberty, lost her first assessment appeal, and then got a look at her new real estate tax bill.

Parker: "Taxes definitely went up."

Sheehan: "Too much?"

Parker: "Too much for me. I'm a senior citizen; I can't afford that."

So on Friday, Parker beat the deadline. Like a dozen other folks, she found her way down to the Assessment Appeals Office to file yet another appeal under the second chance program.

"Give it the old college try. What have you got to lose?" she said.

Ron Sidun of McKees Rocks lost his appeal, but came back to file again.

Sheehan: "So you're going to take another shot at it?"

Sidun: "I'm going to take another shot, yeah."

Sheehan: "You think things will be different?"

Sidun: "No, but I'm going to give another shot."

But under this deadline extension, you'll have until Monday to take another shot at reducing your assessment. Only this time around a proposed rule would bar you from having a real estate expert, like an appraiser, represent you. If you want a representative, you'll have to hire an attorney.

The new rule was approved by the Board of Property Assessment and Appeal. They say to ensure accountability and ensure the protection of the public.

But the rule can be overturned by County Council. And former assessment director Mike Suley says it should be.

"This is supposed to be an informal process. Let the taxpayer decide who should represent them, not the board," said Suley.

And even though they lost the first time, folks say they're going to take another crack at these appeals, and they believe they should have anyone they want represent them.

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