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LAWRENCE COUNTY Property reassessments are in the mail



Published: Tue, July 2, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Property owners have until Aug. 1 to file appeals.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County property owners can expect their new property assessments in the mail this week.

County officials sent 53,000 notices out Monday and Tuesday as part of Lawrence County's first reassessment since the mid-1960s. The new numbers, which represent the fair market value or the amount the property or building could be sold for on the open real estate market, are also posted on the county's Web site at www.co.lawrence.pa.us.

Chief County Assessor Mary Bullano said landowners appealing the new values may file their paperwork at any time. Workers will start answering telephones Friday to take questions about the values or appeals process.

Forms requesting an appeal hearing are available at all local municipal buildings with daily hours, the public libraries in New Castle, Ellwood City and Bessemer and the county assessor's office.

Bullano said the forms must be accompanied by the $10 fee to be processed. Property owners will be notified by mail of their hearing dates and times.

Deadline to file appeal

Landowners will have until Aug. 1 to file appeals, but appeal hearings will likely go into the fall, she added.

Commissioner Ed Fosnaught said the county also started its statistical analysis of the new fair market values.

The county has sought to delay reassessment by one year, claiming the property values were flawed.

The city of New Castle went to court last month to force the county to comply with an agreement the county made with the city council in 1999 to complete reassessment this year. City officials wanted reassessment because they maintain that city residents are paying an unfair share of county taxes.

Common Pleas Court Judge J. Craig Cox put off deciding if a year's delay is needed until the county knows the number of property assessment appeals filed and it completes a statistical analysis of the numbers.

County officials say there are a large number of overassessed and underassessed properties. They believe those who are overassessed will flood the county offices with appeals and there won't be enough time to process them before municipalities must pass 2003 budgets.

The county also says those who are underassessed won't appeal and those numbers will stand.

The judge is expected to review the number of appeals and the statistical analysis and decide sometime in August if a delay of the reassessments is needed.

cioffi@vindy.com




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