The Adams county reassessment has been controversial from the beginning. The goal was to more fairly distribute taxes throughout the counties home owners. New homes are assessed higher than homes that haven’t been assessed for 20 years thus the taxes paid by these parties can vary greatly. The Links at Gettysburg is basically the small flame that sparked the fire the county commissioners are trying to put out. Home owners in Adams County have not been pleased by their increased taxes.

The process which may seem fair to the taxing body is not so far if you consider the tax payer. People whom own homes on fixed budgets with taxes based on 1990 assessments may not be prepared to pay their fair share of today’s assessment. People that purchased new homes were qualified to buy based on the current tax rates which means they are able to handle their current share of the burden.

Beyond that, the assessed values produced by 21st Century appraisals have been wildly out of whack. 20% of home owners applied for formal appeals. If we make the assumption that people who were underassessed stayed quiet it would mean that almost 40% of the assessments are very far off of market value.

Freedom township with the financial backing of People’s Voice Adams released the following letters yesterday 10/1/10.

“This morning Freedom Township, with the financial backing of People’s Voice Adams County and other private citizens, filed suit against Adams County claiming that the county wide reassessment was done contrary to Pennsylvania Assessment Law. Freedom Township Supervisors voted to do this not only because the formal appeals have now gone beyond the deadline of October 31st but because of the myriad of Pennsylvania statutes violated so far. The process has been so flawed that the 41% of Freedom property owners who have filed for formal appeals have been denied or will be denied due process. By December 31,the Township has to adopt a budget that has been advertised for 30 days. Formal appeals have been scheduled well into November. Because of bonding issues, many citizens are waiting till after the commissioners certify the new assessment as required by November 15th (it appears that the County will miss this deadline as well) to bring a legal challenge to the whole assessment.  If the assessment is overturned by these legal challenges, after it has been certified on November 15th (or later) irreparable harm will occur. Budgets and tax bills will be a huge mess -with the expense of new bills and new budgets having to be sent and adopted.
This case is not only about the needs of Freedom Township, it is about fairness and the rule of law. For taxpayers to have faith in their government –that government should not betray that trust by blatantly disregarding the law. The values provided by 21st Century Appraisers were so far off in both directions that over 1/5 of the parcels filed for a formal hearing. Assuming that the people who were under assessed wisely remained quiet, that means over 40% of the properties had serious errors. This problem was exacerbated by an appeals process that failed to meet legal standards.  From an appeal form that requires information that the statute clearly says is not required -to forming auxiliary boards that are not allowed in sixth class counties, the whole process has been done wrong.  The boards themselves have been operating under instructions that are not as set forth in the law. Many taxpayers have taken certified appraisals to formal hearings and without any other evidence presented had their appraisal denied or their assessment reduced only slightly. This is in clear violation of due process.
The legal problems abound, and the numbers are way off. For Freedom to wait for the lawsuits in the future that would cause the courts to throw out the reassessment, taxpayer money would be squandered.  Submitted by Paul Kellett, Freedom Township Supervisor”

Followed by another email…

Dear Peoples Voice Adams,
      Today  Peoples Voice Adams working in conjunction with Freedom Township presented and filed on all our behalf the lawsuit against Adams County
and 21st Century that we all have been anticipating.  We are sorry that it had to come to this. We have tried many other means before this but we rejoice in the hope
that Justice will Prevail!  Mr. Matt Battersby of Fairfield is committed to this cause as our new legal council and we are grateful to have him represent us.  Due to erring on
the side of caution in light of the Counties suggestion of a conflict of interest Mr. John White felt it best to recuse himself. 
       Matt Battersby has agreed to the not to exceed figure of $ 10,000 as did Mr. White to represent us in this matter.   Phil Cole, Skip Strayer and Jim Behm and I  will continue throughout this process to meet with Paul Kellett and our new legal council as well. 
       Some things you can do.  This Wednesday November 3rd at 9:00 we encourage you to come to your commissioners meeting at the Courthouse on the 2nd floor and be a part of the meeting as Peoples Voice Adams.  (Wear  Red it is fitting!)   If you don’t wish to speak that’s  fine listening and seeing the process is important too.  Most of us before this reassessment  have not been too involved in the things that affect us in Adams County.  If you have any questions or comments you can ask the Commissioners   or Mr.      Hartzel the county solicitor.  This is a Civics 101 course in action.  We are not hateful towards anyone from the County, but we are frustrated, tired and angry at the process and what has taken place.  We Never want to see something so ” flawed ” (Gene Porterfields quote)  accepted in Adams County again! 
        FYI  Paul Kellett has been quoted as being willing to put up the money himself for this lawsuit, which is very generous; but I strongly feel we are in this together
and it is not any one mans burden to carry.  We do still have a need for your support and we thank all of you who have already given to help us fight this injustice!
We are very thankful for your  encouragement, patience and ideas, and e-mails shared.    And the great support in showing up for all the different events.
It all matters and we are grateful for each one of you !
       With your help anyone who is new to Peoples Voice Adams or otherwise interested in contributing to this Lawsuit you may make your checks payable to:
 Freedom Township Reasessment Escrow Account
and Mail to:  Freedom Township
                     2184 Pumping Station Road
                     Fairfield, Pa     17320
     For those of you who have already sent your  contribution to the Apple Leaf Abstracting Escrow Account we need  your permission to forward any money to the
Freedom Township account.  If you’re interested in helping with the Freedom Township fight/which is all our fight we  have a form for you to sign and send in to:          
Apple Leaf Abstracting    28 W. Middle Street  Gettysburg, Pa  17325; and they will forward your  contribution on to Freedom to help in this lawsuit. We have to do this right;      and with your permission.  That is why the extra step. 
      If  you need a form you can email me back and ask for the form or go to the   website and where it says  Contacts you click on there and the  Escrow form is available in with the Apple Leaf Abstracting address.  Please print it and send it in  to  28 W. Middle Street Address and they will see to it that the money is transferred to Freedom.  If you have further questions you can call me at 717-398-8580.
      We hope to have this process stopped by the injunction early this week.  You must proceed with any Formals,or Court of Common pleas filings until the injunction goes through.  Quite a few people have to file by next   Monday  November   8th  because they  were sent their answers from their Formals Dated October 8, 2010. Since the 30 days ends on a Sunday the 7th you are given till next day Monday the 8th in that case, per Bev at the Prothonotary office.  As for the $155.00 filing fee we are seeking to get it
 back from this lawsuit for anybody that has paid /pays  to go to the  Court of Common Pleas.  I hope this was helpful I am trying to get you  some of  the information that is not in the newspapers.
    Looking forward to this coming week…………………………………………….Alexandra Escalera             Peoples Voice Adams

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