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TAXING TIMES: Where to take your questions

Saturday, August 26, 2000

If you have questions about your property valuation or need help understanding its potential impact, here are places to call.

Sabre Systems and Services. This is the company that Allegheny County paid to reassess every parcel of property in the county. Its phone number is 412-473-2875. Sabre's Web site also has information about the reappraisal, including answers to frequently asked questions. It's location: You can view the Web site even if you haven't received your preliminary market valuation notice. When you get your notice, it will include a special code that will enable you to view at the Web site information used to appraise your property.

Allegheny County's Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review. Its public information line is 412-350-4600 and includes a menu of items that range from how to appeal your property's value to the various tax abatement programs available in the county. At the end of listing the menu options, you may connect with a real person. Similar information is available at the county's Web site:

Libraries and the Internet have information on property assessments and how to appeal them. Try the keywords "property tax appeal" in an Internet search.

If you feel strongly that your property value is too high, you can look into hiring an appraiser, but that will cost a couple of hundred dollars. If this appraisal comes in significantly less than the value established by Sabre, it could be useful in appealing that value.

Some lawyers specialize in real estate assessment appeals. Check the Yellow Pages. The Allegheny County Bar Association has a free referral service: 261-5555. Other referral services can be found in the Yellow Pages.

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