A few observations on the very long comment thread on the last post
1. The number of anonymous comments is striking. Several commenters make direct or indirect reference to threats of retribution via increased assessments. Is there any evidence that Allegheny County assessments are manipulated to punish individuals for expressing their opinions? If there were, of course that would be a far more damning indictment of the real property tax system than the question of base years and market values.
2. Though the overall argument is a little muddied, people seem to be most upset about relative equity in the property tax system within the town, that is, about whether they are paying the same as their neighbors with comparable houses. The overall equity of Pennsylvania's property tax system, which allows wealthy communities to reward themselves with high quality public services and education, hasn't been put on the table. When I first moved to Mt. Lebanon, I was struck by the extent to which I could see my property taxes at work in the town. In California, that was rarely true; my property taxes went to the state capital, and from there they were to prison construction and highway rebuilding and, here and there, to public education. (Also, in California assessment differences between comparable properties were vastly greater than anything anyone has experienced in Mt. Lebanon, because of the effects of Proposition 13.) I wonder whether the visibility of Mt. Lebanon tax dollars at work has diminished, and whether that relative lack of visibility contributes to the sense that we aren't getting a proper return on our investment. Then again, I wonder what residents of some poorer Allegheny County communities would think of the complaining by Mt. Lebanon residents.
3. My property tax bill in Mt. Lebanon and Allegheny County is several times what my property tax bill was in California, on a house that is worth more or less what my California house was worth. However, my overall Pennsylvania tax burden (property plus income plus sales taxes) is much less than my overall California tax burden. For the anonymous commenters: how does your tax experience in Pennsylvania compare to your tax experience in other states?