So..are they? Is the Great Valley School District about to slide down the slippery slope of reassessments?
I received a message overnight:
The Great Valley School District has decided to go after property owners that they think are under assessed……If you want to see the discussion at the School Board meeting where they decided to take this action here are the directions:
Click here and then on the June 4th meeting – go to the 1 hour 5 minute mark and listen to the discussion: https://www.gvsd.org/site/Default.aspx?PageID=237
Targeting specific landowners and not going after everyone who may be under assessed is discriminatory , unfair but legal. They are going after those where they think they can get the most return for the appeal.
Here is the video:
Here is the list:
NINE of the properties are FARMS. THREE are RESIDENTIAL.
This is very Lower Merion School District of them. Sadly, every time Lower Merion School District has done this it has resulted in MASSIVE amounts of litigation. I found a 2016 case that I think is of note because of legal footnotes that I will share:
Here are the footnotes I think that is something that should be read:
2. In a tax assessment case, the Board has the initial burden of presenting its assessment records into evidence, which establish a prima facie case of the validity of the assessment.
Expressway 95 Business Center, LP v. Bucks County Board of Assessment, 921 A.2d 70, 76 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007). The burden then shifts to the property owner to present sufficient evidence to
rebut the assessment’s validity. Id. “Where the taxpayer’s testimony is relevant, credible and un-rebutted, the court must give it due weight and cannot ignore it in determining a property’s fair market value. Where the taxing authority presents rebuttal evidence, the court must
determine the weight to be given all the evidence.” Koppel Steel Corporation v. Board of Assessment Appeals of Beaver County, 849 A.2d 303, 307 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004) citing Deitch Company v. Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County, 209 A.2d 397 (Pa. 1965).
3. Article VIII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that “All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be levied and collected under general laws.” Pa. Const. art. VIII, §1. This constitutional uniformity requirement is based on the general principle that “taxpayers should
pay no more or less than their proportionate share of government.” Downingtown Area School District v. Chester County Board of Assessment Appeals, 913 A.2d 194, 199 (Pa. 2006). To meet the uniformity requirement, “all property must be taxed uniformly, with the same ratio of the
assessed value to actual value applied throughout the taxing jurisdiction.” Clifton v. Allegheny County, 969 A.2d 1197, 1224 (Pa. 2009).
I did not ask a lawyer about this, I am not a lawyer, but I can read and I can research. I was told there is more to the story by a friend and that this was a list of “mostly profitable commercial businesses.”
But it’s not just commercial properties (which will get sick of tax increases and reassessments too, by the way). There are NINE farms and THREE residences on this short list. As someone else said to me “I don’t doubt their motives. Especially since they have 9 Farms with lots of open space to Overtax so they can’t afford the tax, thereby having to sell, thereby giving an in for more higher density development to make even more in taxes.“
I watched this play out again and again in Lower Merion Township. What ends up happening is people are forced from where they call home because they can’t afford the school taxes. We as residents and taxpayers who stay pay for that as well. And if a school district doesn’t get what they want, they next logically move to reassess ALL of us. That is what happens. They need money because this school district is close to bursting at the seams. Why are they bursting at the seams? Development.
So yes, is also my opinion that this is a direct result of too much development too fast within this particular school district from multiple municipalities. In addition the behemoth with the view of the eerie blue lagoon (A/K/A/ dead quarry) known as Atwater and all around there on 29 that is residential, there is development perched over highway and next to a quarry at the intersection of Phoenixville Pike and Charlestown Road from Southdown Homes called Pickering Crossing. And then there is the new Toll Brothers development starting to happen on Church Road called Great Valley Crossing. And the new development most of us just realized was going to happen on Swedesford Road from people called McKee Builders called Malvern Crossing. Linden Hall which just when you think they can’t add another row, they add another row of houses. Or Ryan Homes’ Malvern Walk on Planebrook.
And those are just a few of the developments that are either still in planning, approved, and so on. Look at the Route 30 Corridor Study for East Whiteland. Did they not suggest additional residential long Route 30 in there? Remember the Malvern Transit Oriented Development Study from a few years back in malvern Borough? (Also see with regard to Malvern’s T.O.D. CLICK HERE. and re-read this column form Henry Briggs. How much more development could Malvern Borough alone see?)
These developments are just targeting bodies. And all these municipalities are falling for the Emperor’s New Clothes of Zoning Overlay Districts. These new developments aren’t specifically saying “senior living”, for example. So all of these developments might bring really nice new families to the area, but they are also adding in a lot of kids to the school district. It’s bringing the city to the country, only I don’t think the country can really handle it.
And JUST like developers did and continue to do around Downingtown where they call EVERYTHING Chester Springs even when really, it’s not….everything in the Great Valley School District is being described as “Main Line”. It’s not the Main Line and well damn, a lot of us (myself included) came here in the first place because we wanted beauty and open space and wanted to escape the Main Line. As in the actual Main Line, not the fake developer speak of what they think the Main Line is, or should be, or where it is.
And with the fake Main Line of it all, we in Chester County are starting to experience real Main Line problems. Tax increases. Traffic congestion. Infill development. Shrinking open space…and oh yeah SCHOOL OVERCROWDING.
Cause and effect.
These reassessments are in my opinion only the beginning. Hope everyone who lives in the Great Valley School District is ready for when we all become Great Valley East and Great Valley West. Because given the pace of development, that is a potential reality. Or Great Valley School District just becomes a monster district like West Chester Area School District. And if that happens, where do the new schools go? Whose land gets taken for that?
Maybe some don’t like my opinions on this. Maybe some think I am being unfair to the Great Valley School District. I am not. It’s just the reality of the situation. And it bears watching.