FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2023
PITTSBURGH – Joe Rockey today criticized Sara Innamorato‘s plans to conduct a countywide property reassessment that could force seniors and the middle class from their homes, a move Rockey called “a divide and tax scheme.”
Rockey, who is challenging Innamorato for the post of Allegheny County Executive, said Innamorato’s threat to reassess properties would lead to a wave of higher tax bills for seniors and working families, trigger a tidal wave of appeals, and disrupt an already broken property tax system.
“Nobody believes that a reassessment won’t trigger higher property tax bills,” Rockey said. “With office vacancy rates at record highs and inflation eating into incomes, a reassessment can only result in one thing: a higher tax bill for homeowners.”
Innamorato has promised to enact yet-to-be-defined “protections” that she says will exempt homeowners from a bigger tax bite but has offered no explanation for how the county would make up the difference when thousands of property owners pursue appeals once reassessed. She couched her argument in language pitting middle-class and working families against other groups.
“Plain and simple, Sara Innamorato’s claim that we can reassess and hold down taxes doesn’t hold water. In fact, seniors and working families will be drowning in higher tax bills and many will head for the Butler and Washington County borders,” Rockey said. “It’s a recipe for continued decline.”
The Rockey-Innamorato divide on reassessment was highlighted this week in an extensive article in PublicSource.org, where Innamorato, who began her political career through the Democratic Socialists of America.
Innamorato’s proposal includes a veritable wish-list of programs to somehow hold down property tax bill increases, with no indication that the general assembly or county will act on them.
“We can’t risk becoming Philadelphia, where the PublicSource article points out how one woman’s side garden was assessed at $408,000,” Rockey said.
→ Read more: Property taxes divide Allegheny County executive candidates, and Philadelphia’s experience looms large (PublicSource.org)
Rockey, a Certified Public Accountant and retired chief risk officer at PNC, one of the nation’s leading financial institutions, said he would avoid another reassessment. Rather, he said, the foremost fiscal duty facing the next executive is to repair the broken Common Level Ratio formula which was thrown out by the courts after it was discovered that the ratio was set artificially high.
At present, more than 30,000 property tax appeals are on the books, partly as a result of the CLR snafu.