County reassessment: Tedious, but overdue and also necessary

Paying your fair share of taxes. You’ve heard this a lot from President Obama in the past five years.

But that principle is more acute on the local level, where paying your fair share is based on the value of a property assessment. When that value is outdated, taxpayers pay more or less than their fair share of the tax burden.

In Lycoming County, it’s been nine years since the last property reassessment. That’s a long time between reassessments, as evidenced by Muncy School District’s appeal of 80 property assessments to the Lycoming County Commissioners last fall.

The commissioners took the hint and are on the cusp of approving a reassessment of properties in Lycoming County.

Just the word reassessment creats a Chicken Little effect, with much of the public reading it as a tedious way to increase taxes. In reality, a reassessment, by law, is “revenue neutral.”

The county is only allowed to create 5 percent more in revenues via the reassessment and most of that, about $1 million, will be used to pay the administrative costs for conducting the reassessment.

The individual impact of the reassessment will probably be a reduction in taxes for a third of the county’s property owners, an increase for another third and no change for the rest. Millage rates will go down so the tax bills will not increase by the same percentage as the market value increase on properties.

Public comment on the reassessment is being taken at the commissioners’ meeting Thursday. This is the time for property owners to prompt the county on issues that should be considered with the reassessment of properties. While all input is welcome, simply railing because of cynicism about the process isn’t going to solve anything.

The county needs the reassessment so that market values continue to carry credibility and the tax payments of property match the relative value of their properties compared with other properties.

It’s tedious. But it’s necessary.