What could be the potential litigation for a county-wide reassessment in an executive session for the Chambersburg Borough Council tonight?

May 13 – At the end of the Chambersburg Borough Council agenda for this evening, there is an executive session that says “Potential Litigation – County-Wide Reassessment.” 

What could that mean? 

Discussions of executive sessions are confidential for boards across the state and nation. 

Franklin County has not had a reassessment since the early 1960s. The surrounding counties have done reassessments much more recently. 

Allen Coffman, borough council president, said that a meeting of communities in Franklin County will be held today as it relates to the reassessment. 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “We know this is the way that other counties who’ve put off this have been forced, their hands have been forced. We know that’s a common way that that happens.”

Attorney Clint Barkdoll suggested, “I think the borough’s patience is wearing thin with these commissioners on this issue because remember, when we interviewed Jeffrey Stonehill, and Chief Camacho a few months ago, they talked about how they wanted to get out in front of this. They were very concerned, particularly the police chief, that Chambersburg is within a few years of getting to that statutory millage cap and after they go through that without reassessment, it really can start harming public services. So I would imagine one thing the council is looking at is if this goes into court, and by the way, I think it’s a winning case. I think any one that sues over this likely wins, but they know it’s going to be a slow process. This isn’t something that’s going to get turned around in a few months. This could go on for a year or more. So maybe they’ll get together with another municipality, maybe they’re going to do it on their own. Might they also request for additional damages, attorney fees? That’s one of the things we talked about with Commissioner Horst if this does go to court, and the commissioners probably would love that politically because it takes them off the hook from having to make a decision on this, but could this end up being a costly endeavor for the county in legal fees and other costs that are associated with the litigation. Maybe the threat of the litigation is a way to try to get this on the commissioners’ agenda to force them to do something.” 

Jansen asked, “Why would we waste legal fees? I don’t see the point, I honestly don’t. It’s going to be expensive to do the reassessment anyway, they would probably lose I would imagine, maybe depending upon the strength of a case, but I think of all counties, Franklin County probably has a really strong case to do the assessment. Why not just use that as the jumping off point to say, hey, out of our hands, we don’t want to waste money on litigation, let’s do it.”

Barkdoll said, “Maybe that’s the off ramp here. It’s interesting that it’s on the agenda though today.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM added, “It’ll be interesting to see if they come out of Executive Session with some decisions and we’ll be following it for you here because in Franklin County, it will have a direct impact on a lot of people.”