The property assessment story in Allegheny County has taken a different twist.
A new policy just started by the county prohibits assessors from entering a locked, gated, fenced or otherwise restricted area to gather any property information without gaining the owner’s permission.
“We need something in place so that our people are not going on property without expressed permission,” Allegheny County Solicitor Andrew Szefi told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The county routinely sends assessors to properties to clarify questions that have arisen during the recent property tax assessment hearings. These questions usually surround the size of lots or structures or any new improvements that have added living space to a home.
According to the new policy, assessors must have the owner’s permission before entering the property or measuring it. Assessors may take photos from the street, make observations of the home from the property boundary, and measure the boundaries of the lot.
A number of property assessment hearings have been suspended so county assessors can visit parcels to resolve disputes regarding property characteristics. The county has come under criticism for relying on computer-generated information as opposed to evaluations made by its staff in determining property values.
Now, it appears assessors will be limited in what they can do, and where they can do it.
“This is for the safety of our employees,” county director of administrative services Jerry Tyskiewicz told the Post-Gazette. “These folks are just trying to assess a value. You can make a wrong turn and end up in an awkward position.”