Clarion County reassessment to begin

The physical reassessment of Clarion County could begin in the next few weeks. The Clarion County Board of Commissioners May 10 issued a press release notifying county residents that a full reassessment for the properties within the county is expected to begin in the spring of this year and culminate with a full reassessment.

“Properties will be valued as of Jan. 1, 2024. The new countywide tax base will be used to levy real property taxes for 2025,” said the release.

Real estate taxes are calculated for each property annually, based on the Fair Market Value at a given point in time, referred to as the base-year. This base year value is used for assessments until a new base-year is established by a countywide reassessment. The current base-year for Clarion County assessments is 1975. That is when the last countywide reassessment was completed.

The commissioners said that over time, property values become inconsistent, unjust, and just too old to reflect current trends and changes in the value of real estate.

“Property values throughout a county appreciate at different rates; market changes create a lack of uniformity, resulting in owners paying more or less than their true proportionate share of the tax burden. The primary object of a reassessment is to establish fair and equitable assessments,” said the release.

The commissioners explained there are several counties in Pennsylvania undergoing reassessments as a result of formal court orders to do so.

The Clarion County commissioners said they have elected to undertake this project proactively.

“It’s the right thing to do; the values and tax burden are not shared equally among the residents within the county. Should a lawsuit occur, the county would lose,” said the commissioners. “The legal process would generate significant legal fees for the county, in addition, the procedures and timeline would be dictated by a court that may or may not fully understand the processes.”

The commissioners said it is not a tenable situation to continue to use values generated in 1975, knowing that there are properties that are in the same neighborhood that have disproportionate values and therefore different tax burdens.

Clarion County has contracted with Vision Government Solutions to complete a reassessment project and to ensure that the values are fair and equitable.

The commissioners said a reassessment does not necessarily mean that your taxes are going to increase as a result of normalizing values with the current market. By Pennsylvania statute, all taxing districts are required to lower their tax millage by the same ratio that the tax base increased. For example, if the county’s tax base were to double, then one-half, making this process revenue neutral, would reduce the county’s millage rate.

Based on a typical countywide reassessment, about one-third of the tax base will see a decrease in their tax bills, one-third will stay the same, and one-third will pay more. A change to an individual’s property taxes depends on whether the increase in the 1975 value to a Jan. 1, 2024, market value is more or less than the average increase experienced in the taxing district.

“It is important to understand that a reassessment will determine the current fair market value of every property in the county. The process equalizes the values of all properties resulting in a fair and equitable distribution of the tax burden,” said the notice.

Over the next few weeks, additional information on the reassessment process will be available on Clarion County’s Reassessment website, www.vgsi/clarion-county-reassessment.

Questions about the reassessment project or need additional information, may be submitted to the Clarion County Assessment Office at (814) 226-4000.