The ongoing community discussion prompted the district's solicitor to issue a statement Monday that "gross misstatements" were being circulated about the assessment appeal of 704 Beaver St. That home is one of two properties adjacent to Quaker Valley High School that the district purchased last year.
"The matter of the purchase and further use of that property is a fair topic of discussion and disagreement. But it is imperative that the discussion be driven by fact and not by inflammatory fantasy," Quaker Valley Solicitor Pat Clair, said in his statement.
Representatives of the Concerned Taxpayers of Quaker Valley sent out an email blast to district residents, elected officials, business leaders and members of the media over the weekend stating the district "won big time" in having its 2013 assessment reduced to $137,000 for 704 Beaver St. after the district paid $250,000 for the property.
The group sent the email in response to information divulged Thursday night at a Leetsdale Council meeting. Borough Councilman Roger Nanni brought up the appeal after some residents raised questions regarding plans for 704 and 706 Beaver St., which the district also owns.
Before Quaker Valley purchased 704 Beaver St., the district filed an appeal because the county-ordered reassessment was too low. Clair said the property met the district's criteria to appeal based on a numerical formula.
"Whether it's high or low, the county gets some of them wrong," Clair said.
He said the district filed the formal appeal along with hundreds of others before the deadline last March, soon after the reassessment values were released.
The school district closed on the house April 18 and became responsible for paying the property taxes. The district later withdrew the appeal.
"We always take a fresh look at it to see if anything changed," Clair said. "We saw that we had bought it. That was the point that we withdrew."
Beth Carroll, spokeswoman for the Concerned Taxpayers, said the group is doing its own research on the matter and expects to have a more informed reply sometime next week.
The district purchased the two residential properties last year as part of plans to help relieve traffic congestion outside the high school. Conceptual plans included a bus lane, a separate student drop-off and additional parking using the 700, 704 and 706 Beaver St. properties. The district does not own 700 Beaver, a key property nearest to the school.
A district-funded traffic study released in the fall offered long- and short-term solutions that are now under review. A 15-member committee has been meeting privately since Feb. 11 to discuss the traffic study results and offer its recommendations.
Tina Vojtko, district spokeswoman, said the committee will meet for as long as needed before presenting their findings to the school board.
Concerned Taxpayers of Quaker Valley email:
THE HOME PURCHASED BY THE QUAKER VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT (704 BEAVER STREET IN LEETSDALE) FOR THEIR PROPOSED PARKING LOT/DROP OFF WAS PURCHASED FOR $250,000.
THE QV SCHOOL RECENTLY APPEALED THEIR TAX ASSESSMENT AND WON BIG TIME AND HAD IT REDUCED TO $137,000--ACCORDING TO MOST PEOPLE WHO APPEALED THEIR ASSESSMENTS SAID QV REPRESENTATIVE WAS THEIR TO OPPOSE THEIR APPEAL. HOW DID THEY GET SUCH A LARGE REDUCTION???
DOES THE AVERAGE TAXPAYER GET THIS LARGE OF A REDUCTION--DO YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO DID?
A PICTURE OF THE HOME THEY PLAN TO EVENTUALLY DESTROY IS ATTACHED--
CONCERNED TAXPAYERS OF QUAKER VALLEY
Statement from Quaker Valley Solicitor Pat Clair in response:
It is necessary for the Quaker Valley School District to correct gross misstatements in an email that was circulated to you and potentially others regarding the tax assessment and appeal status of the property at 704 Beaver Street.
QVSD neither sought nor received any reduction in the assessment of that property.
Notwithstanding that the prior owners paid $228,000 for the property in 2004, Allegheny County re-assessed the property at only $137,000 for 2013, reducing it from $198,000 which had been the assessment for several years.
That County-reduced assessment met the analytic criteria applied to historical sales data to determine what appeals might be filed by QVSD in the Spring of 2013, and an appeal was filed in late March 2012 while the property was still owned by the prior owner.
It was only after that time - on April 18, 2012 specifically - that the District acquired the property. Taxes for 2012 were paid as of course in the process of closing, as in any other transaction.
At some time after closing, the appeal was withdrawn on the basis of the change in ownership. The assessment thus remained at the COUNTY determined $137,000.
The assessment for 2013 might have become entirely irrelevant had the District sought a complete tax exemption, to which it is entitled. However, the District decided to postpone an exemption application for the time being, as discussion of specific future use continues. Thus the property remains taxable at present, albeit at $137,000 - which should be contrasted with ZERO rather than the 2012 purchase price
The matter of the purchase and further use of that property is a fair topic of discussion and disagreement. But it is imperative that the discussion be driven by fact, and not by inflammatory fantasy.
Thank you for your attention.
Pat Clair, Solicitor Quaker Valley School District