Original source: Altoona Mirror
HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County property owners are being advised to look for instructions with forthcoming real estate tax bills on how to review property information that will be used for reassessment.
Tax bills to be mailed next week will reflect calculations based on 1958 property values.
But a flyer to be enclosed with those bills, county leaders said Tuesday, will direct taxpayers to a website with property descriptions that will be used to calculate new assessed values to replace the 1958 ones.
“With 65,000 properties, there’s a lot of opportunity for (property description) errors,” said Tim Barr, vice president of Evaluator Services & Technology Inc., the Greensburg-based company handling Blair County’s first reassessment in almost six decades.
And the best time to address those errors, Barr said, is before they’re used in calculating new values.
Barr was among those speaking Tuesday at the Blair County Courthouse during an educational forum on the county’s reassessment project. He said data collectors have finished visiting all residential properties, and efforts to gather data on commercial properties is nearing an end.
Property information reflecting the gathered data is available for residential properties, Barr said, and will soon be available for commercial properties.
Access to that information will be available through the Blair County website at www.blairco.org, but a login and password, to be supplied with the county’s real estate tax bill, is needed to enter the site.
Those who see errors in their property descriptions should contact the reassessment office at 317-5353 or send an email to reval@blair
Questions concerning the assignment of new property values will have to remain on hold because they have not yet been calculated. Those new assessments will be ready, Barr said, for distribution by the July 1 deadline.
Until then, county leaders and those working on reassessment said Tuesday that they’re planning a series of seven informational meetings for mid-to-late May.
The timing of those sessions will help keep the focus on reassessment and the reassessment process, according to Dominick Gambino, president of Diversified Municipal Services of Wexford.
If those meetings aren’t scheduled until after the July 1 distribution of new property values, Gambino said they’ll be dominated by property owners wanting to challenge their specific assessed values.
“By that time, it’s an emotional meeting,” he said.
Gambino, a certified property evaluator, found many inequities when evaluating Blair County’s use of property assessments based on 1958 values. He outlined discrepancies in a 2014 study that remains posted on Blair County’s website.
While reassessment is designed to correct the inequities, both Gambino and Barr said they know there will be errors and incorrect assessments to be addressed.
After new property assessments are assigned, they said property owners will be in a position to challenge the amounts through an informal review, a formal review and by appealing to the county court system.
Barr also advised that if a property owner believes his or her newly assigned assessed value is wrong and takes no action, that wrong value will likely stand and be used for calculating 2017 real estate taxes.