Blair residents pushing for review

Citizens’ group continues to challenge reassessment

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The citizens group that challenged Blair County’s reassessment project intends to appeal a recent judicial ruling dismissing its lawsuit.

“My clients firmly believe this case needs appellate review,” Hollidaysburg attorney Robert Donaldson said Tuesday about a notice of appeal he filed in response to Judge Elizabeth Doyle’s conclusions in a 71-page ruling issued in early December.

While Doyle concluded that the Blair County Citizens for Accurate Reassessment had legal standing to represent about 300 property owners with reassessment-related issues, she dismissed the group’s lawsuit. The judge, in her ruling, said the group failed to identify “a substantial constitutional question” or “an adequate statutory remedy” that she could use to address their complaints.

Donaldson said he filed the notice of appeal to meet the required deadline. Additional documents will be forthcoming to identify aspects of Doyle’s ruling that deserve another look, he said.

Once submitted, attorneys for county and Evaluator Services & Technology, the Greensburg-based company hired to manage the county’s reassessment project, will have a chance to respond to his position.

From the beginning, Donaldson has maintained that groups of property owners were disadvantaged by the county’s reassessment project and its procedures.

“Accountability at all levels of government is needed,” Donaldson said. “Blair County is no exception.”

Doyle, in her ruling, acknowledged that BC-CAR members had difficulties with the reassessment project.

“The court has great sympathy for the litigants, especially the elderly, infirm and low-income people most affected by any change in circumstances resulting from the reassessment,” Doyle wrote. “But the court cannot base its legal determination on sympathy.”

Doyle also turned down the idea of addressing the complaints by reinstating the property appeals process for BC-CAR members. The judge said that speaks to a change in law, with those complaints more appropriately addressed to the legislative process.

Harrisburg-area attorney Joan R. Price, who represented the county against the lawsuit, said in December that she felt Doyle “conducted a thorough analysis” of the issues as evidenced by the length of the judge’s opinion.