Is It Legal to Use Different Methodologies for Valuing Real Property In the Same Jurisdiction ?
In Wilkinsburg School District v. Board of Property Assessment, 797 A.2d 1034 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2002), appeal denied, 573 Pa. 681, 822 A.2d 706 (2003), the board resolved that, to remedy any inequities that may have developed over the years, it would freeze assessments unless there were new buildings, construction, improvements or subdivisions on a property.
Nevertheless, the board increased the assessed value of a property which had no new buildings, construction, improvements or subdivisions.
The property owner filed an appeal with the board, and the board rolled back the assessment.
The school district then appealed to the trial court, which, because of the board's resolution, dismissed the appeal.
The school district took a further appeal to this court, which affirmed the trial court.
In affirming the trial court, this court recognized that a governmental body must apply the same methodology for valuing real property to all property within its jurisdiction.
This court then stated:
Here, the Board stipulated that the event that would trigger a new assessment was a new building, construction, improvements, or subdivisions.
There had been no such event that would cause an increase in the property's value.
Any successful appeal by the school district (or any other taxing body) ... for any reason except the three triggering events would result in a de facto spot assessment.
The school district's remedy was to attack the legality of the freeze, not to take an action i.e., file an assessment appeal that would create a different methodology for one property owner.
A tax assessment freeze was in place.... Property tax appeals could commence if the triggering events occurred. Here, none did. Id. 797 A.2d at 1036.
Thus, under Wilkinsburg, in an assessment appeal, a board or trial court would violate the constitutional requirement for tax uniformity if the board or trial court were to treat a single taxpayer unlike other similarly situated taxpayers by utilizing a different "methodology" to assess his or her property.