July 15, 2011
-- WASHINGTON, PA (July 2011) – The efforts of two Washington County, Pa., school districts to secure countywide property tax reassessments have been steadily moving forward under the guidance of Washington County attorney Susan Mondik Key of the law firm Peacock Keller. Key delivered a victory to the Washington and McGuffey school districts in June when Washington County President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca ordered county commissioners to immediately enter into a contract to begin the property reassessment process. Incredibly, Washington County has not conducted a tax reassessment since 1981. Following the June 1, 2011, ruling, county commissioners postponed the reassessment, the contract for which was to be in place by July 6, 2011, in anticipation of state legislation that would revise laws governing Pennsylvania’
s reassessment system. But Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett on July 8, 2011, vetoed House Bill 1696, which would have imposed a temporary moratorium on Washington County’s reassessment. In vetoing the measure, Corbett cited the state’s constitutional prohibition on restricting a law to a specific municipality. In the wake of Corbett’s veto, county solicitors sought a stay of O’Dell Seneca’s June 1 order, but O’Dell Seneca declined to immediately grant the stay, instead requesting more detailed arguments from the solicitors.
“In the end, the goal of my clients’ efforts is fairness,” stated Key. “By seeking to postpone the reassessment, the county is permitting disparities between its citizens to continue to increase. Each taxpayer should pay their fair share of taxes, but this cannot happen until property reassessment takes place.”
Because the county has not conducted a reassessment in 30 years, those residents whose properties have increased in value over time are underpaying, while owners of properties that have decreased in value are overpaying, Key explained. The June 1 order Key secured on behalf of the school districts would put an end to these disparities. The order came as a result of litigation the districts initiated in 2008 that ended with a consent judgment in which the county agreed to begin the reassessment by September 2009. The bottom line, said Key, is that the county and the school districts have a binding agreement requiring reassessment.
In addition to ably handling tax assessment matters, Key practices in the areas of estate planning and administration, estate litigation and elder law. A partner with Peacock Keller since 2003, Key is an active member of the Washington County Bar Association and Pennsylvania Bar Association for which she has held many leadership positions. In September 2005, Key was appointed, and continues to serve as, a Hearing Officer for the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. She also participates in numerous community activities, serving on the boards of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Washington Hospital Foundation and several nonprofit organizations. She graduated from Washington & Jefferson College with a B.A. in English and Economics, and from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
About Peacock Keller – Peacock Keller, located in Washington County, is among the largest longest established full-service law firms in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The firm provides corporate and individual clients with experienced and knowledgeable legal services at affordable rates, helping to solve legal problems while avoiding future legal issues. Peacock Keller attorneys provide mediation services and sound legal counsel in the areas of business, corporate and nonprofit law; civil, insurance and medical malpractice litigation; coal, oil, gas, shale gas, mineral and energy law; construction law; elder law; employment law; estate administration and planning; guardianship;
hospital law; personal injury; real estate law; school law and workers' compensation law. To learn about the firm, visit www.peacockkeller.com.
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