People Above Politics
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Action, Getting Results.
Lebanon PA 17046
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during this campaign. Your unwavering commitment is
the wind beneath my wings.
On election day, every vote matters. You
matter! And I can't win this race without you.
past four years, it has been an honor and a privilege to represent
all of the people of Lebanon County as your commissioner.
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Jo Ellen Litz
you for your support of my campaign, and for all that you do.
Sincerely, Jo Ellen
Honorary Chair: Lt.
Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll --a woman who broke the glass ceiling and
contributed greatly to PA politics; born
in 1930, died
November 12, 2008.
People Above Politics
Treasurer: Richelle Whitman
American Business Women's Association
League of Women Voters
Web site paid for by Jo Ellen Litz.
For more information on the Homestead Tax
Exemption, click here.
The ABC's of Property Taxes
by Jo Ellen Litz
Dan Seaman and his staff are ready to assist you in the
An assessment is based on 100% of the 1968
Market Value of your property. With the code that comes
with your county real estate tax, you can
view your assessment records on line.
Using your assessment, you can figure what your house might sell for on
the real estate market. The technical term is Common Level Ratio.
Neighborhood Reviews are continually
done throughout the County. Currently, no one is penalized with back taxes
for unobtained building permits, but if you or a previous owner added items
like an enclosed porch or central air conditioning, your assessment will be brought into line with your neighbors. An
improvement value must total $250 or more before a change is registered.
Also, any square footage errors are corrected. Demolition of a building is
always removed after the assessment office is notified.
For your information, an Interim Tax Billing is done in September for new
houses, additions and improvements.
To figure property taxes, let's use a home in the City of Lebanon
assessed at $20,000 as an example.
1st Bill March County & Municipality Tax
remember that the Earned Income Tax (1 or 1.7%) that is taken off of your
pay check is not tax that goes to the County of Lebanon.
Rather, that tax goes to the school districts.
Judge: It's time to reassess
Properties in the county will be reassessed under an order issued
yesterday by Lebanon County President Judge Robert J. Eby.
The reassessment, the result of a 2006 assessment appeal filed by Hugh
P. and Rebecca J. Rooney of 1460 Todd Court, Annville, must be completed
by the end of 2012, Eby ordered.
In their appeal, the Rooneys said the county’s failure to conduct a
countywide assessment for 36 years “has caused a discriminatory effect of
taxation” that harmed them and others. The last reassessment was done in
Hugh Rooney said yesterday he was relieved by the ruling.
“You have to ask for fairness,” he said.
The reassessment will affect 53,000 parcels in the county, county
administrator Jamie Wolgemuth said.
Bill Carpenter, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, said he
expects a third of the new assessments will be higher, a third will be
lower and a third will be the same.
Rooney said he does not expect his taxes to go down as a result of the
“The system was broken for a long time and needed to be fixed,” the
Rooneys’ attorney, John Ferry, said. “Overall, the system is good, but the
system needs to be maintained.”
Regular maintenance means regular reassessment, Ferry explained.
Ferry said Hugh Rooney began to question the county’s method of
determining real-estate assessments after a 25-by-25 foot addition was
built onto his home in 2003.
On April 26, 2006, the Rooneys filed an appeal with the
Lebanon County Board of Assessment Appeals of the
assessed value of their property. On Sept. 8 that year,
a decision order was sent to the Rooneys indicating the
assessed value of their property was being lowered to
$41,500, effective for the 2007 tax year. It had been
previously set at $44,900.
The Rooneys filed a notice of appeal on Sept. 8,
2006. In that notice, the Rooneys did not dispute the
fair market of their property but claimed the method of
calculating the assessed value of the property violates
the uniformity of taxation clause in the state
In his ruling, Eby agreed.
“The court determines as a matter of law that there
is a lack of uniformity in the current real estate
assessment for properties located with the County of
Lebanon,” Eby stated in his order.
Eby’s order cannot be appealed.
Carpenter said he was not surprised by the Eby’s
ruling but expressed concern about the timing of the
“It’s something that has to be done,” Carpenter
said. “Right now is the worst time to do this because of
the economic conditions.”
Carpenter said an early estimate of the cost of a
countywide reassessment would be $2 million to $3
million. He said the county would pay for it with a bond
issue, probably in early 2010. A professional firm will
be hired in late 2009 to do the reassessment, he said.
“It’s an expensive proposition, but we’re going to
follow the court order,” Carpenter said.
A reassessment pricetag of $2 million would equal 1.8
mills in property taxes, Wolgemuth said.
The new assessments would affect property owners in
the 2013 tax year, Carpenter said.
Judge orders reassessment by 2012
Saturday, December 13, 2008
BY BARBARA MILLER
Of Our Lebanon County Bureau
LEBANON - Lebanon County is to reassess the value of all its properties
within the next four years.
A countywide reassessment was ordered by Lebanon County Judge Robert Eby
by the end of 2012, as a result of a lawsuit filed by an Annville couple
claiming that county assessments lack uniformity.
A reassessment is the process by which counties determine the property
values that will be used to set county, school and municipal property tax
rates. A property's assessment is supposed to reflect its market value.
A reassessment doesn't necessarily mean that property taxes will
increase, but assessments generally rise in a reassessment.
The ruling, which cannot be appealed, means the county will have to spend
$2 million to $3 million to reassess all properties in the county, said Bill
Carpenter, chairman of the county commissioners.
"I understand the judge's ruling and I think it's a fair ruling,"
But he added that these are "tough economic times."
The average home assessment in Lebanon County is $20,000. The owner of a
$20,000 home will pay $400 in county property taxes in 2009, an increase of
$90 over this year.
Hugh and Rebecca Rooney of the 1400 block of Todd Court, Annville,
appealed their 2006 property assessment to the county board of assessment
appeals because they said the home was assessed too high.
While the board reduced the $44,900 assessment to $41,500, Hugh Rooney
felt it should have dropped to $25,000, based on assessment of similarly
Rooney appealed the ruling to county court, because a countywide
reassessment was needed to rectify what he felt was a lack of uniformity in
If anyone is upset because their assessment is raised and their taxes
go up, they shouldn't be, Rooney said.
"Those who see their taxes go up should be glad for the time they had
other people subsidizing their taxes, and my property just happens to be one
of those," Rooney said.
The county assesses at 14.7 percent of fair market value. The current
assessment system results in newer properties and those getting additions
having higher assessments than older properties of similar market value,
said John Ferry, the Rooneys' attorney.
Rooney, who is a real estate agent and ex-Annville Twp. commissioner,
said he noticed a "huge disparity" in the assessments of older properties
being sold compared to his property.
The Rooneys hired a Lebanon Valley College math professor to analyze the
assessment and sale prices of 1,235 properties in 2006, Ferry said.
Carpenter said the county probably will reap the least benefit from the
reassessment, because it has to pay for it, and has lower tax rates than
school districts and municipalities.
The court did not order that Rooney's attorney's fees be paid by the
BARBARA MILLER: 832-2090 or email@example.com
In March 2004, the County
Commissioners voted to mail out notices that they intend to cut the 25
mills, which is at the State ceiling for a fifth class county, in half.
Thus the same house valued at 50% of its value will be at 100% of its 1968
value, and the 12.5 mills will still equate to a tax bill of $250.00
(.001*$20,000*12.5). In 2005, millage is 15.5 mills.
lWhy 100% predetermined
ratio, not reassessment?
–Privacy in 50,000 homes.
–Cost - about $15,000 rather than $2.5
–Time - Takes effect January 1, 2005 rather
than over a three year period.
–Schools seldom pay for a reassessment, but
–Sales tax to support schools may be coming
from the State level.
–Comparable values of homes in a neighborhood
hold true in assessment hearings
–Easier comparison from county to county.
–Take care of service providers --nurses,
haz mat responders, prison guards...
–Revenue neutral in 2004 - no change in 2004
–Ceiling in 2005 =
5% on county, and 10% on schools.
–2004 County Mill = $1 million
–Common level ratio helps to figure your
fair market value.
Divide the assessment by .168 or multiply by
–An assessment is an arbitrary number,
not an exact science. Two different appraisers will usually come up
with two different figures. A conservative appraisal might be given
to a bank to know how much money to lend you while you may hire an
appraiser to help figure out at what price to list and sell your home.
This appraisal will no doubt come in higher.
–Market & economy fluctuates.
Value in 6 months may be higher or lower.
The law allows a 15% fluctuation window.
Even after a reassessment, there is n–o
guarantee to fall within
the 15% window.
–Neighborhood walk-throughs pick up closed
in porches and central air
conditioning (where someone along the line forgot to get a building
permit). This helps to ensure tax fairness between old and new
construction. It's a myth that older home owners don't pay their fair
share of taxes. There are usually obsolete or less than energy
efficient rooms in older homes. Therefore, in my opinion, the value
reflects depreciation for age and use.
|City millage 20.67 (.001*$20,000*10.335)
2nd Bill August School Tax
|School millage 143 (.001*20,000*71.5)
Total Yearly Property Taxes
**A mill is equal to 1/10 cent (1/1000 of a dollar). Every year, local
government officials and school boards review their budget. A vote is taken
to retain, reduce or increase the millage which ultimately retains, reduces
or raises your taxes.
Assessment appeals are not to appeal your taxes, but to
appeal the assessed value of your home or business. If you
feel your assessment is too high, appeals can be filed by September 1 of
each year in the Assessment Office at the Municipal Building. Successful
appeals before the County Commissioners compare lot size, age, square
footage of buildings and quality of construction with other buildings and
properties in the neighborhood. We try to make taxpayers feel at ease. You
can represent yourself by researching and making a list using the books and
computer in the assessment office at the Municipal Building or by hiring an
appraiser to value your home based on comparable sales in the neighborhood.
However, if you are unable to attend in person, since this is
a hearing that can be appealed to the Court of Common Pleas, only an
attorney can legally represent you. Also, IF
you choose to get a professional appraisal, so our staff can review the
figures and references, be sure to submit the appraisal at least ten days
before your hearing.
Earned Income Tax Bureau does
not fall under the supervision of the county commissioners. Rather,
the Lebanon EIT Bureau board of directors is comprised of two school board
members from each of Lebanon County's School Districts: Annville Cleona,
Cornwall Lebanon, Easter Lebanon, Lebanon, Palmyra, and Northern Lebanon.
Likewise, tax collected by the Lebanon EIT Bureau supports public schools,
not the County of Lebanon.
Lebanon County is 363 square miles consisting of 42,688 households with
an average income of $29,261. 64,800 citizens comprise Lebanon County's
work force. The current estimated population is 117,434.
Larger taxpayers by assessed property value:
||Type of Business
||1999 Assessed Value
|MTM Development Corp (SID Tool)
|Rosenfeld, Samuel etal
||Lebanon Plaza Shopping Center
|Lebanon Valley Mall
|Cornwall Manor of the United Church Home
|Lebanon Valley Brethren Home
|ALCOA Lebanon Works
|Wal-Mart Stores 2023
|Walter H Weaber Sons, Inc