Allegheny County, PA
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Added 6-27-2000 by Ord. No. 15-00; amended 12-11-2001 by Ord. No. 80-01]
[1]
Editor's Note: For additional information regarding the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review, see Charter § 1.10-1005.
There is hereby created as an agency of the County to become effective September 1, 2000, a new "Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review" hereinafter referred to as the "Appeals Board." The previous Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review is abolished. The purpose of the Appeals Board shall be to:
A. 
Hear and decide all appeals concerning the valuations of parcels of real property within the County; and
B. 
Hear and decide all appeals of determinations of the tax exempt status of any parcel or real property within the County.
The following words and phrases when used in this article shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this section:
BASE YEAR
The year upon which real property market values are based for the most recent County-wide revision of assessment of real property, or other prior year upon which the market value of all real property of the County is based. Real property market values shall be equalized within the County and any changes by the Appeals Board shall be expressed in terms of such base year values.
COMMON LEVEL RATIO
The ratio of assessed value to current market value used generally in the County as last determined by the State Tax Equalization Board pursuant to the act of June 27, 1947 (P.L. 1046, No. 447), referred to as the State Tax Equalization Board Law, 72 P.S. § 4656.1 et seq.
ESTABLISHED PREDETERMINED RATIO
The ratio of assessed value to market value established in this Administrative Code and uniformly applied in determining assessed value in any year.
A. 
The Appeals Board shall consist of seven members. In making appointments to the Appeals Board, the racial, geographic, age and gender diversity of the County shall be considered. All members shall have been registered voters for at least the immediate year preceding appointment and shall remain Registered Voters for the duration of their terms. In addition to the foregoing, the members of the Appeals Board shall meet the following special qualifications: three of the members shall have not less than 10 years practical experience as a registered real estate broker, or real estate appraiser or assessor; one member shall have not less than ten years practical experience as a building construction engineer, civil engineer or general contractor or assessor; and one member shall have not less than 10 years experience as a practicing attorney at law with residential valuation expertise.
B. 
Four members of the Appeals Board shall be appointed by the County Council. Three members of the Appeals Board shall be appointed by the Chief Executive, with the consent of at least a majority of the seated members of County Council. In order to achieve staggered terms, in the first year of its existence, by lot, three members shall serve a term of one year, two members shall serve a term of two years and the remaining members shall serve a term of three years. Thereafter, all terms shall be for three years. No member shall serve more than four consecutive terms. Reappointment must occur 30 days prior to the expiration of the current term. No member can serve as a member of the Appeals Board at the expiration of the term, unless reappointed.
[Amended 11-3-2004 by Ord. No. 35-04]
C. 
All appointments to fill vacancies happening in any manner other than by the expiration of a term shall be only for the remainder of the unexpired term. In each case, whether or not the vacancy happens by the expiration of a term or otherwise, all Appeals Board members so appointed shall meet the qualifications for serving on the Appeals Board set forth in § 5-207.03A above.
D. 
The Appeals Board shall organize on the first business day of January of each year by electing one of its members as Chairman, one as Vice Chairman and one as Secretary.
E. 
All of the members of the Appeals Board shall devote sufficient time to the duties of their office to fully discharge such duties but may hold employment or may engage in business outside of their position as members of the Appeals Board.
F. 
No member shall be employed by the County or an elected official of a municipality or a school district nor hold an elected public office nor be a member of a school board.
G. 
Appeals Board members shall disclose all property in which they have any ownership or business interest and shall recuse themselves from any decision regarding the taxable value of such property.
H. 
County Council shall establish by Resolution a per meeting stipend to be received by the members of the Appeals Board not to exceed in the aggregate $9,000 annually per member.
[Amended 4-16-2002 by Ord. No. 15-02]
All members of the Appeals Board and all employees and hearing officers assigned to work for the Appeals Board shall abide by the Accountability, Conduct and Ethics Code,[1] by the County fiscal procedures set forth in Article VIII of this Administrative Code, by the purchasing policy and procedures set forth in Article IX of this Administrative Code, by the personnel procedures set forth in Article X of this Administrative Code. All hearing officers shall be required to display a name tag and badge number in plain view at each conducted appeal.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Article 1013 of this chapter.
The Appeals Board may appoint a Solicitor to serve at its pleasure. Such Solicitor shall be an attorney at law admitted to practice in the Courts of the Commonwealth and shall be a member in good standing of the Bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Such Solicitor shall advise, counsel and represent the Appeals Board in matters involving assessment law and procedure, in all litigation involving the Appeals Board, and in all other ordinary and customary legal matters.
A. 
The Appeals Board shall adopt rules and regulations for hearing and disposition of the following appeals:
(1) 
Assessment appeals of the County certified valuation of real property;
(2) 
Appeals regarding the tax-exempt status of real property based upon applicable laws;
(3) 
Appeals of catastrophic loss values set by the Office of Property Assessment, through the Chief Assessment Officer;
(4) 
Appeals of preferential assessments made by the Office of Property Assessment, through the Chief Assessment Officer pursuant to the Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act (Clean and Green Law);[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 72 P.S. § 5490.1 et seq.
(5) 
Appeals from reassessments and exemptions under the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act;[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: See 72 P.S. § 4722 et seq.
(6) 
Appeals from reassessments and exemptions under the New Home Construction Local Tax Abatement Act;[3]
[3]
Editor's Note: See 72 P.S. § 4754-1 et seq.
(7) 
Appeals from assessments of property under the Public Utility Realty Tax Act;[4] and
[4]
Editor's Note: See 72 P.S. § 3271 et seq.
(8) 
Appeals of such other assessment and exemption matters as may be provided by applicable laws or this Administrative Code.
B. 
The rules and regulations adopted by the Appeals Board shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following:
[Added 3-4-2003 by Ord. No. 07-03; amended 11-15-2005 by Ord. No. 52-05; 7-5-2006 by Ord. No. 15-06]
(1) 
Procedures for filing (including filing by mail and electronic filing), scheduling and hearing appeals;
[Amended 3-10-2015 by Ord. No. 10-15]
(2) 
Required notices and postponement of hearings;
(3) 
Rules of evidence governing such appeals;
(4) 
The methodology by which appeals decisions are to be made by the Appeals Board, including appeals on base year valuation, which methodology shall be consistent with the valuation methods provided under state assessment laws for arriving at values for properties;
(5) 
The format and content of the Appeals Board's appeal decisions, including providing in the disposition notice an explanation of the rationale leading to any change in assessed value as a result of the hearing;
(6) 
Such special assessment appeal management orders that the Appeals Board, in its sound discretion, believes to be necessary and useful in order to address any manner or type of issue or claim, substantive or procedural, presented for adjudication as part of an appeal or group of appeals of the valuation of a property or the tax exemption status of a property or properties. The Appeals Board may adopt a special assessment appeal management order either upon its own motion, upon advice and recommendation of its Solicitor, or upon the motion of any party to any appeal filed and pending; and
(7) 
The Appeals Board, when considering an appeal on a base year valuation, shall make no reference to ratio in its decision and shall express its decision in terms of such base year value. All appeals filed while the County is under the base year form of assessment shall be deemed to include an appeal by the taxpayer of the base year valuation. In addition, the appellant may elect to have the appeal heard solely on the issue of whether the base year value is correct or incorrect. So long as the County is under the base year form of assessment the Board may, but shall not be required to, determine the current fair market value of any property under appeal. Except to correct clerical or mathematical errors or to correct a base year value, the Board may not adjust a base year value unless it is established by clear and convincing evidence that there has been: (1) an addition or removal of improvements on the subject property; or (2) physical changes in the land of the subject property. In no case may the Board permit an increase in the base year value founded, in whole or in part, upon a sale in a year subsequent to the established base year.
C. 
The Appeals Board may modify or amend its rules. Notification of any changes must be made to the President of County Council and the Chief Executive. County Council will have 30 days from receipt to resolve that the changes shall not go into effect. If Council does not pass such a resolution within the 30 days, the changes will take effect.
The new Appeals Board shall have the power and its duty shall be to:
A. 
Hear all cases of appeals from assessments and tax exemption status determination in accordance with its rules and regulations governing appeals as provided in § 5-207.06 of this Administrative Code;
B. 
Contract, if necessary to fulfill its duties, with hearing officers to hear cases of appeals from assessments in accordance with the Assessment Appeals Standards and Practices Ordinance sections as provided in Chapter 209 of this Administrative Code, and in which case such hearing officer shall:
[Amended 5-21-2003 by Ord. No. 19-03]
(1) 
In the case of hearings related to commercial and complex multifamily properties, be state-certified general appraisers or have the equivalent professional appraisal expertise;
(2) 
In the case of hearings related to residential properties, be state-certified general or state certified residential appraisers or be real estate industry professionals or lawyers with residential valuation expertise;
(3) 
Disclose all property in which they have any ownership or business interest;
(4) 
Recuse themselves from any decision regarding the taxable value of property in which they have any ownership or business interest; and
(5) 
While under contract with the Board of Property Assessment Appeal and Review, be prohibited from representing appellants before the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review and/or other hearing officers retained by the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review.
(6) 
For a one-year period commencing upon the termination date of their contract, be prohibited from representing appellants before the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review and/or other hearing officers retained by the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review.
C. 
Render decisions of appeal hearings;
D. 
Hear and decide all appeals of the Office of Property Assessment's determination concerning the tax exempt status of any property;
E. 
Provide reports of hearings for distribution to the entire Appeals Board. Reports shall include, but not be limited to, findings of fact, conclusions of law and a recommendation to the Appeals Board;
F. 
Ensure access to public records regarding assessments in accordance with § 1.10-1005 of the Charter, provided:
[Amended 11-20-2007 by Ord. No. 48-07]
(1) 
Such access shall not include the ability to search the Allegheny County Real Estate Website using the first, last or middle name of any property owner.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: For additional information regarding the County's Real Estate Website, see Ch. 270.
G. 
Perform and exercise such other powers and duties as may be conferred or imposed upon it by applicable Law and the provisions of this Administrative Code;
H. 
Adopt rules and regulations, within six months of formation, consistent with applicable laws; and
I. 
Report annually to the Chief Executive and County Council regarding the activities of the Appeals Board.
[Amended 11-15-2005 by Ord. No. 52-05]
Appeals and exemption applications may be filed through March 31; provided, however, that if March 31 in any succeeding year is a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, then appeals may be filed with the Appeals Board until the close of business on the next business day of the year in which the assessment was certified, except for the 2001 tax year in which appeals may be filed on or before June 1, 2001. So long as an appeal remains pending before the Appeals Board, the appeal will also constitute an appeal for any assessment subsequent to the filing of such appeal and prior to the determination of the appeal by the Appeals Board. If an appeal extends into successive years, the Appeals Board shall determine the value for each tax year in question.
[Amended 11-5-2003 by Ord. No. 56-03]
A. 
Property owners who have suffered catastrophic losses to their real property shall have the right to request an appropriate reduction in valuation from the Office of Property Assessments. Such request for an appropriate reduction in valuation shall be filed with the Office of Property Assessments within the remainder of the calendar year in which the catastrophic loss occurred, or within six months of the date on which the catastrophic loss occurred, whichever time period is longer. Upon receipt of a request for a reduction in valuation due to catastrophic loss, the Chief Assessment Officer shall establish a new value of the property in the following manner: the value of the property before the catastrophic loss based on the percentage of the calendar year for which the property stood at its former value, added to the value of the property after the catastrophic loss, based on the percentage of the calendar year for which the property stood or will stand at its reduced value. Property owners who are dissatisfied with the new value of the property as determined by the Chief Assessment Officer shall have 30 days from the date of the Chief Assessment Officer's determination of the new value to appeal such determination to the Appeals Board. Any property improvements made subsequent to the catastrophic loss in the same calendar year shall not be included in the revaluation as herein described for that calendar year. Any adjustment in the valuation of real property pursuant to this section shall be reflected by the appropriate taxing authorities as follows:
(1) 
If a tax notice for the real property which suffered the catastrophic loss either has not been issued by the appropriate taxing authorities or has not been paid by the property owner, then a new tax notice for such property shall be prepared and the taxes due and owing on the property which suffered the catastrophic loss shall be calculated and paid by the property owner based upon:
(a) 
The percentage of the calendar year that the property stood at its value before the catastrophic loss; and
(b) 
The percentage of the calendar year that the property stood or will stand at its value after the catastrophic loss;
(2) 
If a tax notice for the real property which suffered the catastrophic loss was issued and paid prior to the occurrence of the catastrophic loss, then the appropriate taxing authorities shall issue a refund of taxes paid to the property owner based upon:
(a) 
The percentage of the calendar year that the property stood at its value before the catastrophic loss; and
(b) 
The percentage of the calendar year that the property stood or will stand at its value after the catastrophic loss.
B. 
A reduction in assessed value for catastrophic loss due to inclusion or proposed inclusion of residential property on either the National Priority List under the Federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-510, 94 Stat. 2767), 42 U.S.C.A. § 9601 et seq., as amended, or the State Priority List under the act of October 18, 1988 (P.L. 756, No. 108), known as the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, 35 P.S. § 60201.101 et seq., shall be in effect until remediation is completed. For purposes of this section, "catastrophic loss" shall mean any loss due to mine subsidence, fire, flood or other disaster which affects the physical state of the real property and which exceeds 50% of the market value of the real property prior to the loss. For purposes of this section, the "catastrophic loss" shall also mean any loss which exceeds 50% of the market value of the real property prior to the loss incurred by residential property owners who are not deemed responsible parties under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 or the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act and whose residential property is included or proposed to be included as residential property on:
(1) 
The National Priority List by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980; and
(2) 
The State Priority List by the Department of Environmental Resources under the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act.
A. 
No appeal taken from any assessments made shall affect the validity of any taxes assessed, nor shall it prevent the collection of the taxes based upon the assessment if such assessment shall thereafter be reduced, and exoneration shall be granted for the proper amount to equalize such reduction, if the taxes based upon such assessment have not been paid, and if the taxes based upon such assessment have been paid, the excess taxes collected shall be refunded to the Person having made such payment. Such refund, except as provided in § 5-207.10B, shall be made within 30 days after the taxing body has been notified by mail by the Appeals Board of the reduction made in the assessment by the Appeals Board or by the court, and such refunds shall include interest at the legal rate commencing one year after the date of the receipt by the taxing bodies of the mailed reduction notice from the Appeals Board. No such appeal shall operate to relieve the appellant from liability for accrued interest and penalties on any unpaid taxes based upon the assessment as finally established.
B. 
The Appeals Board shall present to County Council quarterly reports of revisions in assessments. Such reports shall include, at a minimum, the property location and dollar amount of all revisions.
Unless otherwise modified by this Administrative Code, all other provisions relating to tax assessments appeals set forth in the Second Class County Assessment Law, 72 P.S. § 5452.1 et seq., and applicable provisions of the General County Assessment Law, 72 P.S. § 5020-101 et seq., shall remain in full force and effect.
Nothing herein this article or this Administrative Code shall be construed or interpreted to in any way adversely affect, modify, repeal or change the right of any owner of real estate or taxable property or any taxing body, which may feel aggrieved by any decision concerning the valuation of property or the tax exempt status of a property, or any other assessment or exemption decision made by the Appeals Board under applicable law from appealing such decision to the Court of Common Pleas as provided by General County Assessment Law, the Second Class County Assessment Law or other applicable laws.