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LAWRENCE COUNTY Official criticizes delays on data



Published: Wed, July 4, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The assessment company says it doesn't want to give out incomplete information.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- A Lawrence County commissioner says the company doing a countywide reassessment has been slow and sometimes unresponsive to requests for information.

Commissioner Ed Fosnaught said Real Estate Tax Consultants of Pittsburgh, a consulting firm hired to monitor reassessment, asked for information on the reassessment in February and still has not received all of it.

Manatron Sabre Systems of Miamisburg, Ohio, is conducting the reassessment.

"If Sabre is confident in the accuracy of the data they collected, they should have nothing to hide from the county consultant," Fosnaught said.

Explanation: Daniel P. Muthard, president of Manatron Sabre Systems, says his company has tried to be accommodating but does not want to give out incomplete information.

When RETC asked for information on residential data collection in February, only about 30 percent to 40 percent of it had been done, he said.

Manatron Sabre waited until most of the data was collected, in late May, to send that information to RETC, he said.

Fosnaught said it's not up to Muthard to decide if the information requested by the county consultant is incomplete.

"When our consultant asks for information, the agreement with Sabre is, they comply," he said.

Getting information from the local Manatron Sabre director, Mike Roth, has not been a problem. It's only a problem when the information has to come from the Miamisburg office, Fosnaught said.

"When Mike Roth gets a request, RETC gets the information. When there is information Mike doesn't have and the request goes to Ohio, it gets lost or slowed down," Fosnaught said.

Computer issues: Muthard said RETC did not have the software to access the files and they had to be converted. That information in its new format was sent to RETC about a week ago, he said.

Muthard said his company has not responded to requests for neighborhood maps because there are 500 to 600 color maps for Lawrence County in its offices. He said it would be too time-consuming and costly to copy those maps and send them out.

RETC, however, is welcome to look at them and make copies in Manatron Sabre's Miamisburg offices, he said.

Elsewhere: Fosnaught said reports of problems with Manatron Sabre's work on Allegheny County's reassessment have caused him to be more vigilant about work here.

Allegheny County officials contend there was a higher-than-expected number of appeals to property valuations set by Manatron Sabre.

Some officials questioned the qualifications of appraisers hired by Manatron Sabre and why some property values increased from the time of preliminary notice to final notice.

They say that change prevented those homeowners from filing appeals during the preliminary appeals process, which is handled by Manatron Sabre. Now they must take any appeals to the county appeals board, which will cost the county more money.

"We don't have problems right now. Things like that [in Allegheny County] are what we want to avoid. We need to audit the work to determine whether or not we will have problems," Fosnaught said.




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