2011-07-14 / Local & State

Pa. Gov. Vetoes Property Reassessment Moratorium

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Gov. Tom Corbett issued his first veto Friday after deciding a bill to impose a temporary moratorium on a court-ordered property reassessment in Washington County violated the state constitution.

The governor’s veto message cited a provision of the constitution that prevents the Legislature from passing “local or specific’’ laws that regulate county affairs.

The measure would have limited the moratorium to fourth-class counties with populations between 185,000 and 210,000. Only Washington County, in southwestern Pennsylvania, fits that description.

The new property valuation was ordered after two school districts sued. The bill would have halted the reassessment until the General Assembly takes steps to ensure uniformity among counties in the reassessment process or until Nov. 30, 2012, whichever comes last. It passed both legislative chambers by comfortable margins.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Rick Saccone, a Republican whose district includes a portion of Washington County, said he was considering trying again in the fall. He said, however, that may be too late to prevent Washington County’s reassessment from going forward.

The reassessment will cost the county $6 million to $8 million, and residents are concerned the results will not be fair, he said.

“People there don’t really want it,’’ Saccone said. “All we wanted to do was delay it one year while we set up this commission to study property tax reassessments statewide.’’

Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson said the caucus disagreed with Corbett’s legal opinion.

Corbett’s first veto came after signing 89 bills during his first six months in office.

The state House last week also passed two resolutions to establish task forces to develop new procedures and uniform reassessment standards.

The Washington Observer Reporter said last month that the county’s first assessment in about three decades was expected to take more than two years.

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