Judge hearing last tax appeals

Duncansville property owner appraised land $1M less than county

HOLLIDAYSBURG — In one of the last 2016 property assessment appeals pending before Blair County Court, the owner’s real estate taxes were to go down as a result of the county’s reassessment project.

But the tax payments could be even lower if Blair County Judge Daniel Milliron sides with RKD Properties, the property ownership group that appealed the value assigned through Blair County’s reassessment project. Based on testimony offered Monday in court, there’s a $1 million difference between the owner’s appraisal and the county’s assessment of a Duncansville-area property.

Local appraiser John K. Cowan told the judge he used two methods for computing a value for a commercial property at 491 Municipal Drive, made up of Slinky Action Zone, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle shop, the Prime Sirloin buffet restaurant and a former vehicle repair garage.

Based on his computations, Cowan said he settled on a value of $1.74 million.

Evaluator Services & Technology, the Greensburg-based group hired to manage the county’s reassessment, came up with a value of $2.73 million.

EST owner Gene Porterfield said his company’s value is based on projected rents for the type and sizes of the structures on the property.

It also reflects an evaluation of business expenses in connection with the property and maintenance, Porterfield said.

Milliron, who held the first trial by judge in April as a result of the reassessment project, was scheduled Monday to hear testimony in 10 of the 12 outstanding court cases generated by the county’s reassessment project and its 2016 appeals process. But two of the 10 were settled through agreements, attorneys announced to Milliron.

As for the others, like the one involving the 491 Municipal Drive property, Milliron is expected to sort through the information and render a ruling, which assigns assessed values to properties, as of 2016, which are used to compute real estate tax payments due in 2017.

Pittsburgh attorney Janet Burkhardt, who has been representing the county and working with EST, asked Cowan if he was aware that as a result of reassessment, the property taxes at 491 Municipal Drive were initially projected for 2017 at $36,008, just $2 more than the 2016 real estate taxes of $36,006. Further refinements, as part of the reassessment project, caused that property’s real estate taxes to go down to $32,149, Burkardt said.

“That’s good,” Cowan replied.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

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