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The Wayne County Commissioners recently launched a public outreach effort to help taxpayers better understand the county wide tax reassessment process currently underway. This process began back in 2018, and will take another year and a half to complete. In May, eight public meetings were hosted throughout Wayne County. One of these sessions was recorded and can be viewed at http://waynecountypa.gov/795/Reassessment-Video. The County will continue to provide updates to the public via newspaper, radio, the Wayne County website, www.waynecountypa.gov, and social media.
WHY IS THE REASSESSMENT HAPPENING? The Wayne County Commissioners also serve as the Assessment Appeals Board. There are annual opportunities to appeal county assessments, and in these proceedings, inequities and inconsistences have been revealed mostly due to real estate value growth rates differing throughout the county in the past 17 years. This influences real estate taxes as the assessed value established by the county is applied to the millage (or tax rate) set by the local taxing authorities. As a result, some are paying too much, while others are not paying their fair share of taxes. Having current accurate property data is critical to fair taxation. Residential property owners should have recently received a form in the mail asking you to confirm or update the dwelling details on file at the Wayne County tax assessment office. Although a two-week window to respond was requested, due to mail delays, we want to make sure people understand they may take as much time as needed to return these forms. We hope to receive your response before the end of July. If you did not receive a form, or have any questions at all, please call 570-251-8985. If you do not return the form, a site inspection may be required. If necessary, assessors are able to visibly inspect Wayne County properties from the outside, during a drive by visit, not requiring entrance to your home or business.
WHY NOW? A fair and unbiased county wide tax reassessment requires the services of a third-party tax appraisal company to help perform market analysis and sales research to assign updated property values. Funding for these services was considered and negotiated into a bond restructuring that occurred back in 2019, at no additional tax burden to county taxpayers. In March of 2021, Tyler Technologies was selected as the third-party appraisal company. Tyler is one of the largest and most highly regarded tax assessment services and software companies in the United States. The project manager is a resident of neighboring Susquehanna county and manages a team that is in residence here for the duration of the project, working in partnership with Wayne County tax assessors.
WILL THE COUNTY GENERATE MORE TAX REVENUE AS A RESULT? No. Pennsylvania state law prohibits counties from generating more tax revenue in a reassessment year than the previous year, with the exception of new construction not previously on the tax roll. Therefore, if property values have increased across the board, the county must adjust millage rates down. Property taxes are the primary form of tax revenue the county receives.
WILL MY TAXES INCREASE? Reassessments nationwide demonstrate that approximately one third of property owners will pay the same amount of tax, while one third will see a decrease and one third will see a tax increase. Tyler Technologies will be reviewing sales data for the previous 30 months to complete the new valuations. Although the COVID-19 pandemic and the previous ten years of property value growth strengthened the local real estate market and increased property values, it has not affected neighborhoods equally. Some areas have seen an increase in their property values that are greater than the county average. This population can expect a tax increase. If your neighborhood has seen property values increase, in line with the norm across the county, your taxes will most likely remain similar to what you pay now. If your property has not increased in value as much as the county average, you may see a decrease in your taxes. Therefore, if your new property value increases during this process, it does not necessarily mean you will pay more taxes. Our expectation is that two thirds of Wayne County property owners will pay the same or less in their taxes, after new property values are assigned and millage rates adjusted.
WHEN ARE NEW PROPERTY VALUES ASSIGNED? Tyler Technologies and the Wayne County tax team have begun the reassessment process, and expect to complete property valuations by the middle of the summer of 2022. When you receive your property value, you may request an informal review to go over any questions or concerns you have about the new values. If this review does not meet your satisfaction, then you may request an assessment appeal hearing. New values will go into effect January 1, 2023.
For additional information, please visit the Countywide Property Tax Reassessment page on the Wayne County website, www.waynecountypa.gov/869/Countywide-Property-Tax-Reassessment. Additionally, you may call the tax service office at (570) 251-8985.