MUNCY - Letters are being sent to more than 80 property owners in the Muncy School District notifying them that their assessment values are being challenged by the district.
The school board here voted Aug. 20 after a closed-door executive session to authorize the filing of real estate assessment appeals "based on recent sale prices ... effective with the 2013 tax year."
The lone dissenter on the school board was Robert Titman. Thomas Gardner, Lisa Sleboda, William Schneck, Scott McLean, Brian Krah and Dr. Mary Bennardi voted for the measure. Carla Auten and Danielle Baum were absent from the meeting.
Titman said he voted against the proposal because he thought it would hurt small business owners and "lower income residential properties."
Appeals are not being made solely as a money-making venture, according to David Edkin, school district business manager.
"Everyone paying their fare share makes it easy on the rest of us," he said.
He said the appeal is limited to a "select number of parcels in the school district to appeal their assessments based on their recent sales of those parcels."
Edkin added that sales information from the past three years will be taken into account for the appeals.
He said appeals are not usually undertaken by school districts because of the time required for the task. But Muncy's effort was restricted to a narrow selection of properties, he said.
The school district has not appealed property assessments in the more than 20 years that Edkin has been on the job, he said.
"This is something that is not automatically done," he said.
Jeffrey Richards, Williamsport Area School District business manager, said that district has not undertaken an appeals process in the past of which he knows.
"We typically allow the county assessment office to handle appeals," he said.
Muncy School Board members selected 83 properties - mostly residential with some commercial parcels - to be challenged. Edkin said the selection process was done "very objectively."
Names, addresses and property descriptions were not used in making selections, he said.
Affected property owners will get a letter from the county assessment office noting that their real estate assessments are being appealed by the school district.
Edkin said property owners can contest the appeal in front of the Lycoming County Commissioners, who comprise the assessment appeals board. He said that may take place around mid-October.