NEW CASTLE Residents to receive property valuations

People who disagree with the new values can appeal them through April.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County property owners can expect something extra in the mail next week, and about 14 percent of those owners will not like what they see.
Officials from Manatron Sabre Systems, the Miamisburg, Ohio, company hired to do the county property reassessment, said the preliminary values of all property in the county should be sent to property owners in the next few days.
Letters accompanying the values will explain the informal appeal process for anyone disputing the worth placed on their property. The values should represent what someone could sell their property for on the open real estate market.
It's still unclear how these new values will affect property taxes in the county.
Explained process: Jim Ginnan, Manatron Sabre's vice president of appraisals, explained the informal appeal process to county commissioners Tuesday. Informal appeals will begin as soon as property owners receive their new property values in the mail.
He said they expect about 14 percent, or 8,100, of the 55,000 county landowners to appeal.
Owners wanting to appeal their property valuation should call Manatron Sabre's Lawrence County office to set up a meeting.
There will be 14 certified Pennsylvania evaluators, people who helped place the values on the property, conducting appeal meetings, he said. They likely will be scheduled from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and possibly on a Saturday, through April, he said.
People who disagree with their new property values after an informal meeting will be able to appeal again after June 6.
Ginnan said that anyone appealing their property value should bring something that explains why they believe a value should be lowered. Those things could include pictures detailing damage to a house, recent property sales in the neighborhood, or a real estate appraisal of the property, he said.
"Bring us anything that leads you to your value." he said.
Commissioner Ed Fosnaught reiterated his belief that the values should not be mailed to property owners right now.
Fosnaught has complained that Manatron Sabre is not cooperating with a county consultant hired to watch over the reassessment. He said the consultant has been unable to evaluate the numbers, which were recently revised by Manatron Sabre.
"I still object to those numbers being sent out. We haven't seen them. We were supposed to have 30 days to review them," he said.
Total land value: The county received preliminary figures in mid-January, but there were several typing errors that inflated the county's total land value to about $6 billion.
Ginnan said those errors have been corrected as recently as late last week.
"That was a data entry situation. It shouldn't have happened, and we are embarrassed about it. But those were preliminary numbers, and we told the county that we were still working on them," he said.
Total land value is now at about $3.2 billion, he said. That's more than five times higher than the current value of Lawrence County property, which is about $600 million.
Ginnan said the jump in property value is directly related to the fact that Lawrence County hasn't had a reassessment since 1963.

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