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TAXING TIMES: Glossary of terms for reassessment

Saturday, August 26, 2000

Appeal The process of bringing concerns about a property valuation to the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review. The appeal must be based on factors that would affect the market value of the property in question. Ability to pay property taxes cannot be considered in an appeal.

Appraised Value The price an appraiser determines your property would sell for in a competitive real estate market; also known as market value.

Assessed Value -- In Allegheny County, a property's assessed value used to be calculated at 25 percent of its market value. But the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review decided to simplify assessed value by making it the same as market value, or appraised value. Beginning next year, the county, municipalities and school districts will have to adjust their millage rates to take this change into account, since property taxes are determined by multiplying a jurisdiction's millage rate by a property's assessed value. Making assessed value and market value the same should simplify that process.

Comparable properties -- Properties that have recently sold and are similar to yours. Appraisers use these properties to help determine market values of nearby properties. Because these properties are similar but not necessarily identical, appraisers have a formula to adjust for differences in square footage, age, number of bathrooms and other factors.

Data collection -- The process of gathering information, such as square footage, number of rooms, type of roof and other characteristics, about each property in the county.

Market Value -- The same as appraised value.

Mill -- .001. For tax purposes, a mill represents a tax levy of $1 for every $1,000 of a property's assessed valuation.

Preliminary Value -- This is the initial value that Sabre Systems has placed on each of the 580,000 parcels of property in Allegheny County that it reappraised. Those values are preliminary until every property owner has a chance to ask Sabre for an informal review of the preliminary valuation. Allegheny County will make the preliminary values official at the end of the year and will mail valuation notices to each property owner in early January next year.

Reappraisal -- Also known as a revaluation or reassessment, this is the process of recalculating property values that have become inaccurate over time, usually because of faulty assessment methods.

Sabre Systems and Service -- This is the Miamisburg, Ohio, reappraisal company being paid $23.9 million by the county to recalculate the value of every property countywide.

Tax district -- A jurisdiction that under the law can levy property taxes in a specified geographic area. These include counties, cities, municipalities and school districts.

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