LAWRENCE COUNTY Property owners appeal assessment

The county is studying the numbers to determine if the reassessment is flawed.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The first of 3,202 assessment appeal hearings was to begin today in Lawrence County.
The hearings are part of the final step in implementing Lawrence County's first property reassessment since the mid-1960s.
The reassessment determined property values for the purposes of real estate taxation. The appeal hearings are at the county government center.
Mary Bullano, the county's chief assessor, said three boards will conduct hearings every weekday through October. Each board consists of three people.
County commissioners recently appointed 10 new people to serve as assessment appeals hearing officers. They will each be paid $75 per day for their work. All have experience in the real estate field, Bullano said.
The hearings are not open to the public, but any representative of a taxing body -- school district, city or county -- can sit in on the hearings, she said.
About 300 of the appeals are from industrial or commercial property owners, another 300 are from farmers and the rest are residential, Bullano noted.
About Clean and Green
She said that county officials are now working on the Clean and Green applications submitted by farmers and property owners with large plots of vacant land.
Clean and Green is a state program that provides a lower tax assessment for agricultural land or wooded land that will be left undeveloped. Bullano said she expects some landowners may forgo their appeal hearings once they get approval for the Clean and Green Program.
The county will continue with hearings until common pleas court Judge J. Craig Cox decides whether the reassessment process will continue.
County commissioners are trying to stop reassessment, contending the property values are flawed. New Castle officials took the matter to court in an effort to keep it on track.
The values are set to be implemented for taxing purposes next year.
The county has been ordered to compile a report of the values to determine if there are overassessed and underassessed properties, as county commissioners contend.
Bullano said that report is nearly finished. They are waiting for help from statistics professors at Slippery Rock University and Westminster College, she added.

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