More Winners than Losers with LVT

Published December 1, 2006

Though most property owners in Clairton have seen their property tax bills shrink as a result of the school district’s decision to use land value taxation (LVT), some property owners have seen increases.

“One of the problems we had is people who had businesses with big parking lots,” said William Boucher, a certified public accountant and business administrator for the Clairton school district. “We struggled long and hard and looked at almost everyone before going to the LVT. It was a utilitarian decision. There are eight businesses with big parking lots that got dinged.

“Because I have the data, I know who were the winners and losers,” Boucher said. “We’ve heard from only the losers. USX [US Steel] wasn’t real happy, I can tell you. But most homeowners saw a decrease in their property taxes. The increase was primarily on USX and the public housing.”

The district is working with taxpayers to work out the bugs. “There are cases of people owning a hillside that’s worthless, but those appeals are easily won,” Boucher noted. “I’m helping a little old lady with an appeal this week. She owns three acres that’s essentially a cliff, so she can’t build anything on it.

“We don’t want people in that kind of situation to be hurt, and that’s why we’re helping her,” Boucher said.

Joshua Vincent