TL: The company hired to reassess Luzerne County property values had argued in court that the county has a contractual obligation to pay the company to manage and defend the county against Hanover Township resident Vic Kopko’s property assessment court challenge.
But the county's newly hired legal guns say not so fast. Philadelphia based Elliott Greenleaf & Dean is getting $300+ per hour to defend the county in the lawsuit. Why in-house lawyers can't handle this is puzzling. Staff Solicitor David Schwager, who represents the assessment appeals board, doesn’t have time to devote to the Kopko case because he’s busy processing mediations, commissioners said. Every county department, board and agency has a solicitor which may or may not be mandated by state law. It seems like there are hundreds of them. The GSC should look at creating a solicitors office with a staff of attorneys that would handle all county legal business. Rosenn Jenkins & Greenwald was originally hired but pulled out because of a claimed conflict that Dr. Kopko called bullshit. “I believe they’re smelling a case that they can’t win,” Kopko said.
Some more fun with reassessment include The Luzerne County Assessor’s Office has failed to fully value and tax a Rice Township residential property that’s on the market for an asking price of $649,000. The home is owned by Angelo Terrana. Terrana sits on the county Board of Assessment Appeals, which oversees the assessor’s office. Plus there is Participant 2's multi-party Bob Mericle's dance over a Wilkes-Barre property that he owns. We own a rental double block and one side is valued $8000 more than the other but for the most part the houses are the same. 21st Century may have got a few things wrong.
And I got this in the inbox:
Would love to give you an update on reassessment. The law has been violated and the county knows it! Apparently the rats are turning on each other as 21st Century (who will be held responsible along with the commissioners and others) filed a brief indicating, and you guessed it, that reassessment is now illegal based on county actions and the settling, or tanking, based on your perspective, has reduced the equalized values.
Oh, by the way, mediation is absolutely illegal, appears nowhere in the 3rd Class County Reassessment Law, and was signed into "law" by none other than Mark "I'm gonna do time" Ciavarella. The process does not address the sweetheart deals for politician's and their family/friends/political contributors which it will when we file for removal in a few weeks. My attorneys and I are confident that we will prevail. We have to ..for the people! For as many on the ridiculously high side values, their are the ridiculously low values.
Please keep in mind that I met with the commissioners to head this off. I asked them for three things; 1) correct the overs and unders on reassessment (Urban indicated that he knew of at least 5 municipalities "grossly undervalued". He said he would not address those and each municipality should file an appeal in 2010. Not happening since the politicians in those municipalities need their constituents votes to get re-elected. 2) Guarantee no more tax increases since the base has been adjusted (Petrilla answered, "No way, can't do it" Could you blame her with the corruption and mismanagement of funds that have gone on? She is a party to it! 3) Return the windfall fees to taxpayers since their is evidence that 95% of individuals did not receive their Pa certified appraisal amounts and were beaten down because they could not afford anymore attorney fees or associated costs. (Can anyone say, collusion?)
It goes on and on. There will be 25 items that clearly has violated the law, let alone adding the county corruption issues in. I would enjoy to fill you in more. By the way, keep calling the Sue Henry Show.
Dr. Victor P. Kopko
30 minutes ago