It’s been nine years since a property reassessment was completed in Lycoming County.
According to commissioners, it’s time to do it again.
Commissioners, in conjunction with the county’s Board of Assessment Appeals, announced Thursday that a countywide reassessment is under consideration this year to would balance fair market values of properties.
“It basically levels the playing field,” said Commissioner Jeff C. Wheeland.
Adoption of a resolution confirming the reassessment may come at the commissioners meeting at 10 a.m. March 7 at Executive Plaza, 330 Pine St.
Commissioners said there have been numerous examples in the county of commercial and residential properties that have been purchased well below or
beyond their existing fair market values. That means their owners may not necessarily be paying property taxes in line with their neighbors.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Wheeland said of proceeding with reassessment plans. “When you delay and delay and delay from doing a reassessment, things get out of whack.”
The county isn’t the only local board of elected officials that think fair market values of properties need to be updated. The Muncy School District appealed about 80 property assessments to the commissioners last fall.
David Edkin, the district’s business manager, said a narrow selection of commercial and residential properties were selected based on their purchase price during the past three years.
Since the proposed reassessment is countywide, those property owners in the Muncy School District could have their fair market values changed once again.
Wheeland said the Muncy School District, along with other county school districts, forced commissioners’ hands on announcing a reassessment, although he said it already was being planned.
He said that if the county did not go through with a reassessment, school districts would have done so at their own, which could have meant a large price tag for the county with administrative and court costs.
According to information from the county, property assessments “have already deteriorated to the point where lack of uniformity and a true relationship to market value are evident. The result (is) taxpayers paying more or less than their fair share of the tax burden.”
Wheeland said reassessment is not designed to raise taxes.
“It’s a misnomer,” he said.
In fact, millage rates – which municipalities and school districts use to calculate taxes – will go down because reassessment is “revenue neutral.” That means the county only is able to capture 5 percent more tax revenue from reassessments after the new millage rate goes into effect.
The 5 percent, according to Wheeland, may be around $1 million. That money would be used to pay for the county’s administrative cost of conducting the reassessment, he said.
In a typical reassessment, about one-third of tax bills increase, one-third remain the same and one-third are lowered, according to information provided by the county.
Additionally, tax bills that increase will not go up by the same percentage that the market value increases because of the lowered millage rates.
Any changes in property owners’ tax bills would not be seen until 2015.
The reassessment process would be done in-house by the county’s Assessment Office. The last reassessment was performed by 21st Century Appraisals, of Middletown.
Public comment will be accepted at the March 7 commissioners meeting. Wheeland also said the commissioners will make themselves available to any community or civic group to “help people understand what all is involved in reassessment.”
In addition, property owners will receive correspondence from the Lycoming County Assessment Office.