Time for Reassessment in Northampton County

Tom Shortell says John Cusick stopped short of calling for a reassessment, which is perhaps understandable since he’s mulling a run for County Exec and everybody hates reassessments:

Council President John Cusick stopped just short of supporting a county-wide property re-assessment during tonight’s meeting, saying people would just have to wait and see if County Executive John Stoffa will include it in his 2013 budget.

Northampton County has not ordered a re-assessment since 1994, and Stoffa and other council members have learned Philadelphia-based attorneys have begun sending mailers to residents offering to represent them for free on appeals […]

Cusick said holding county-wide assessment would allow the county to properly tax residents and avoid profit losses in people successfully appealing their outdated assessments. When Councilman Lamont McClure point blank asked him if he was endorsing an assessment, Cusick danced around it.

“We would be in line for one given the time that has elapsed since we had one,” he said.

Obviously much has changed about land values around the County since that time, and now lots of people are overpaying taxes, and many others are underpaying. NorCo’s assessed values are all out of wack, and now they’re also out of wack relative to Lehigh County, since Lehigh just did a reassessment. Think about how distortionary that is for Bethlehem, which is in both Lehigh and NorCo. Part of the city’s using 2012 assessed values, and another part’s using 1994 values.

John Stoffa needs to be a mensch and get this done in his time as a lame duck. He’s not running for reelection, and he’s still got a year and half or so in office. On the politics, this fall is probably the only time an Exec stands a chance of getting Council to vote for reassessment as John Cusick points out. Once the Exec race starts in earnest, it’s going to become a political football. If they vote on it this fall, the political timing should work out pretty well for everybody – depending, of course, on when the new values come out.

Lamont McClure is sounding like he’d want to make an election issue out of opposing reassessment, solidifying his position as my least favorite potential Exec candidate of either Party.

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