What would really happen if Franklin County did a reassessment? 

January 23 – There’s been a lot of talk about a Franklin County reassessment recently. 

The Chambersburg Borough Council voted a few weeks ago to send an official letter to the Franklin County Commissioners asking for a reassessment. 

A reassessment hasn’t been done in Franklin County since 1962. 

Chambersburg Borough Council President Allen Coffman has also attended meetings at other municipalities recently talking about a county reassessment. 

Franklin County Commissioner John Flannery believes a reassessment would hurt the folks who have lived in their homes for decades.  

To begin, he assured that the commissioners are going to take this issue up. 

He said, “We are going to address it. The commissioners are very aware of it. As we have been and you know, this goes back years. I think there’s so much misconception out there. The importance of a reassessment is education. I think there have been some misunderstandings and I’ve heard some quotes from individuals say, ‘it is the third, the third, the third when you do a reassessment’ – a third goes up, a third stays the same and a third goes down.”

That might not exactly be the case. 

Flannery continued, “The fact of the matter is we currently use what’s called a common level ratio applied to new home construction or assessments when people pull permits, and their property is reassessed. We are not that far off from any other county. That keeps us very close to where we need to be.”

Applying that common level ratio to new homes changes the landscape a bit. 

Flannery said, “When you do an overall reassessment, applying that common level ratio to new homes, generally puts them at a very high level. So what I’m telling you what is going to happen, and this is a fact and if you do proper research on other counties that have done a reassessment, what you’re going to see is the most vulnerable part of our community, the people in our community, those people that have owned their homes for 40 years and are paying $1,200 a year on a half acre for a 1500 square foot home, guess what? It’s going up, they’re going to be paying $3,000, $3,500 and these people that are paying $9,000 and $10,000 for their 3000 square foot home on their acre and a half, that’s going to come down a little bit to probably $7,500, $8,000. I’m using very broad generalizations here. But that’s the fact. It’s going to hurt the people that have not had their properties re-evaluated or reassessed because of improvements through pulling a permit or whatever else that may be over the last 30 or 40 years. I’m telling you my personal position on this is that I’m not for or against doing it at this point, but I just need people to understand who it’s going to hurt before we get to that point.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “You also are aware that there’s some school district in Cumberland County that has decided to go after some personal property owners and also some business owners because they’ve looked at some of the numbers and they’re not getting their fair shake here. Can you just imagine striking a check for your taxes and then seeing a love letter from the school district saying now we think we want more out of you? So one way or the other could the school district go after that? Here’s your footprint of property, and we don’t see that you’re paying your fair share. So we’re going to tie you up in litigation. Do I want lawyers involved with this?”

“Absolutely not,” Flannery agreed. “The school districts let’s face it, I mean, they’re the highest taxing authority. That’s 70% of your tax bill. The county is probably roughly 20% of that and then your local municipal taxes make up the rest. So they are the biggest taxing authority and they have the most to gain or lose. I understand that the Chambersburg Borough Council has approached us and we are responding to that. We are addressing it and don’t get me wrong, we are addressing it. This is very serious. But again, we have to take it very seriously. This is going to affect a lot of people in our community and we have to do the right thing for the right reasons. I just want to make sure and I’m talking about me, not the commissioners, but myself as a commissioner, if I make the decision to move forward with us, that we do it for the right reasons. We have to really be diligent when we move forward with this.”