Mckean county pa property records

First, the Herzogs argue that the trial court erred by not accepting the testimony of their witnesses. Second, the Herzogs argue that the trial court failed to understand and properly apply the Clean and Green Act. In their first argument, the Herzogs contend that the trial court erred in not crediting their witnesses. Specifically, the Herzogs argue that Zapel's opinion should have been accepted by the trial court because his testimony was uncontradicted. Moreover, the Herzogs argue that their Exhibits 9 and 10 impeached McDill's testimony. We disagree. In a de novo proceeding in a tax assessment case, the taxing authority bears the initial burden of establishing its prima facie case for the validity of the assessment.

Deitch Co. This is typically done by presenting the official assessment records and the testimony of an assessment officer. The burden then shifts to the taxpayer to respond with credible, relevant evidence to persuade the court of the merits of his position. If the taxpayer fails to do so, then the taxing authority prevails.

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If the taxpayer meets his burden, then the court may no longer presume the taxing authority's assessments are correct. The trial court's findings of fact can be reversed only for clear error. Green v. In making its findings, the trial court must state the basis and reasons for its decisions, regardless of whether one expert or multiple experts testify.

Where the trial court's conclusions are supported by substantial evidence in the record, this Court may not disturb those findings on appeal. Earl Township v.

Reading Broadcasting, Inc. When expert testimony conflicts, as it did here, the trial court must determine the weight and credibility to assign each expert's testimony.

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Pennypack Woods Home Ownership Association v. Board of Revision of Taxes , Pa. In this case, the trial court rejected Zapel's testimony as not credible or persuasive and explained its reasons for doing so. Specifically, the trial court explained that Zapel lacked experience in calculating use values under the Clean and Green Act; Zapel's proposed use values relied on assumptions that had no basis in the record; and Zapel could not conclusively state that his proposed use values were accurate within a reasonable degree of certainty.

Conversely, the Court explicitly found McDill's methodology was consistent with what is required by the Clean and Green Act and, therefore, his testimony was found credible and persuasive. However, the Herzogs contend that McDill did not successfully rebut their evidence.

They argue that Exhibits 9 and 10, which consist of documents authored or co-authored by McDill, impeached McDill's testimony. Specifically, they claim that McDill made "statements confirming forests do not generate annual net income. However, this was never a point in dispute. McDill testified about "how the Commonwealth arrived at the Clean and Green [use] values" and opined on why an annual income approach is the best method to use, given the alternatives. See Trial Court Opinion at 4. McDill specifically explained why the income capitalization approach must be used to establish use values for forest land, even though not all parcels of forest land generate annual income.

The Herzogs' attacks on McDill's credibility miss the mark. Exhibit 9 was an article co-authored by McDill that criticized the current methodology for establishing use values for forest land, noting, inter alia , that a policy argument could be made that forest land should not be taxed as real property at all but instead should be subjected to a yield, or income tax.

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However, this article also observed that such a change would require legislative change. Further, other methodologies did not fit the intent of the Clean and Green Act to preserve forest land because they would incentivize premature harvesting of timber. Exhibit 10 was an expert report used as evidence in another McKean County tax case.

The report criticized the pre methodology used by the Commonwealth to develop a use value for forest land in a given county. After that report, the Commonwealth refined its methodology to make it more representative of forest land values in different areas of Pennsylvania, as the report urged. Neither writing directly contradicts McDill's expert testimony and analysis in this case. In sum, we conclude that the trial court gave adequate reasons for rejecting Zapel's testimony and accepting McDill's testimony.

Further, its findings of fact were based upon substantial evidence. Therefore, the trial court did not err in this regard. Next, the Herzogs argue that the trial court failed to understand and properly apply the Clean and Green Act. Because county assessors are not required to use the Commonwealth's use values, the Herzogs argue that county assessors must select the most appropriate use value and then justify that selection. The county assessors may not, according to the Herzogs, "blindly accept" the Commonwealth's use values. Further, they argue that it is never appropriate to use an income capitalization approach to establish the use value of forest land, such as their parcel, that does not generate annual income.

The Herzogs argue that an appropriate use value is one that accurately reflects the current value of the timber being grown on a particular parcel. Stated otherwise, the Herzogs contend that the use values established by the Commonwealth are wrong, and the county assessors erred in using them. The Herzogs try to support this assertion by arguing that Section of The Fourth to Eighth Class and Selective County Assessment Law requires the county assessor to rate and value all subjects of local taxation. Thus, the Clean and Green Act controls, and the Herzogs' argument lacks merit.

The Herzogs argue that forests do not generate net annual income, and it cannot be approximated by using average yields and average income. If taken literally, this argument means that forested real property could not be taxed until, and unless, timber is harvested; thus, the real property tax would be replaced by an income tax. Our Supreme Court has recognized that "[t]axation is a practical, and not a scientific problem[, and] [d]etermining the [value] of a property, therefore, is often not a matter of exact science or capable of mathematical accuracy.

It has also held that the Uniformity Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution requires all property in a class to be entitled to uniform treatment throughout the taxing jurisdiction. See Deitch , Pa. Finally, a statute creating a preferential tax treatment must be construed narrowly and against taxpayers.

Feick v. With these principles in mind, we turn to the Herzogs' arguments that county assessors must justify their use of the Commonwealth's use values and that the income capitalization approach cannot be used to calculate use values under the Clean and Green Act.

We begin with a review of the relevant provisions of the Clean and Green Act. In relevant part, Section 4. In , Section 2 of the Clean and Green Act was amended to include the definitions of various financial terms. Now Section 2 defines the income approach as: The method of valuation which uses a capitalization rate to convert annual net income to an estimate of present value.

Present value is equal to the net annual return to land divided by the capitalization rate. By contrast, the legislature did not specify how use values for forest land were to be calculated. It did not, however, prohibit the income approach. The only requirement under Section 4. The duties of county assessors establishing preferential assessments for forest reserve land under the Clean and Green Act are clear.

In short, Section 4. However, the lower use value must be a single, per-acre number that applies to all forest land in the county. Both the Clean and Green Act and the regulation in Title 7 of the Pennsylvania Code state the duties of county assessors in the permissive. They each provide that county assessors may establish lower use values if they so choose, but they do not mandate their establishment.

Moreover, neither the Clean and Green Act nor Title 7 burden a county assessor with the obligation to justify their adoption of the use values provided by the Commonwealth.

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Prior to the amendments to the Clean and Green Act, the Act did not contain detailed instructions on how to calculate use values or preferential assessments. As originally enacted the only requirements, contained in Section 3 b of the original Clean and Green Act, provided: The assessor when determining the value of land in agricultural use, agricultural reserve use, or forest reserve use, shall, in arriving at the value of such land for its particular use, consider available evidence of such lands' capability for its particular use as derived from the soil survey at the Pennsylvania State University, the National Cooperative Soil Survey, the United States Census of Agricultural Categories of land use classes, and evidence of the capability of the land devoted to such use.

Former Section 3 b of the Act of December 19, , P. The Herzogs, with their narrow focus on trying to require the use of a methodology that will result in lower use values and lower preferential assessments, quite literally lose sight of the forest for the trees. Their arguments are flawed. First, the Herzogs note that McDill stated that when developing an average income, the Commonwealth uses an "Olympic ten year average.

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See R. The Herzogs point out that Section 2 of the Clean and Green Act requires the "capitalization rate" to be calculated using a five-year rolling average. They are correct. Extensions, sale of property. However, in no event may the property be sold by a property owner until all violations noted by the Code Enforcement Officer have been corrected.

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  • No property may be sold a second time without all violations having been corrected and a certificate of code compliance having been issued. In this event, any attempted sale by a purchaser at a sale for delinquent taxes or judicial sale, shall be regarded as a "second sale" within the terms of this article. Fees for applications.