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Schuylkill approves assessment consultation

How likely is a countywide property reassessment in Schuylkill County?

Well, it depends whom you ask.

Schuylkill County commissioners voted Wednesday to approve and authorize the execution of a real estate tax assessment consultation agreement with Joan R. Price and the firm Eastburn and Gray, P.C., Doylestown, for “the purpose of evaluating the county’s real estate tax assessment procedure and processes as it relates to pending countywide reassessment litigation and to such other matters deemed necessary by county administration and the office of the county solicitor,” according to Wednesday’s agenda.

The hourly rate for services is $250.

No discussion was had on the matter before the vote by all three commissioners.

First Assistant Solicitor Glenn Roth said Community Justice Project, a nonprofit group in Harrisburg, is behind the filing. He said there has been “a trend throughout the state where counties have been sued and they have been forced to do a reassessment,” Roth said.

“We have defended the litigation. At this time, we do not believe that a countywide reassessment is necessary,” Roth said.

He said the civil case is still pending in county court in front of Judge James P. Goodman. Court records show the case was filed July 30, 2018, and served to County Administrator Gary Bender. Plaintiffs are listed as Robert Heim and Lisa Aviles. The county is the defendant. Roth said Heim died and he believes Aviles is no longer a county resident.

The most recent filing is by Marielle Macher, who is listed as a lawyer and executive director of Community Justice Project, according to the website of Community Justice Project. An amended complaint was filed by Macher on Aug. 12, following an answer by Roth and a new matter mentioned. Macher responded to the new matter Sept. 28, the most recent filing recorded.