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BUERGER ET UX. v. ALLEGHENY COUNTY BOARD PROPERTY ASSESSMENT (03/18/59)

March 18, 1959

BUERGER ET UX., APPELLANTS,
v.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY BOARD OF PROPERTY ASSESSMENT, APPEALS AND REVIEW.



Appeal, No. 178, April T., 1957, from order of County Court of Allegheny County, No. A-1082 of 1956, in case of David B. Buerger et ux. v. Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

W. Gregg Kerr, Jr., with him Eckert, Seamans & Cherin, and Smith, Buchanan, Ingersoll, Rodewald & Eckert, for appellants.

Joseph J. Ridge, Assistant County Solicitor, with him John F. Murphy, Assistant County Solicitor, and Maurice Louik, County Solicitor, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ.

Author: Woodside

[ 188 Pa. Super. Page 562]

OPINION BY WOODSIDE, J.

The appellant, David B. Buerger, owns real estate in Hampton Township, Allegheny County, which was assessed at $8200 for the triennial 1956, 1957, and 1958. Buerger appealed from this assessment to the Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County, which reduced the assessment to $7900. From the board's assessment, he appealed to the County Court of Allegheny County alleging that the assessment was in excess of the fair market value of the property and that it did not comply with the constitutional and statutory requirements of uniformity. After hearing, the court entered a decree dismissing the appeal. From that decree he appealed to this Court.

At the hearing before the lower court, the board offered in evidence the certified transcript of the assessment which was as follows: 37 acres of land at $4,700, a two-story frame house at $2,400, and a kitchen at $200, a garage and grain house at $200, two chicken houses at $100, and a frame barn at $300. Upon admission of this transcript into evidence, the board rested. This was proper procedure. There is a presumption that the assessment was the fair market value of the property. The burden is upon the appellant to prove that the valuation was excessive, or unjust, inequitable or not uniform in comparison with other real estate in the district. John Wanamaker, Philadelphia,

[ 188 Pa. Super. Page 563]

    is your standard? A. Fair market value. Q. Is that a 100%, 40% or what? A. It is a hundred percent."

When the appellant's counsel attempted to cross examine these witnesses there were so many objections and interruptions by both counsel and court that for all practical purposes he had no opportunity to clarify their testimony or to test their credibility.

The Act of May 22, 1933, P.L. 853, § 402, 72 PS § 5020-402 provides: "It shall be the duty of the several elected and appointed assessors, ... to assess, rate and value all objects of taxation, ... according to the actual value thereof, and at such rates and prices for which the same would separately bona fide sell ..."

This section imposes a duty upon assessors to determine valuation on the basis of actual value. "Actual value" has been held to mean market value: Park Drive Manor, Inc. Tax Assessment Case, supra, 380 Pa. 134, 110 A.2d 392 (1955); Flamingo Apartments, Inc. v. Board of Revision of Taxes, 383 Pa. 223, 118 A.2d 197 (1955). "Market value" has been defined as "the price which a purchaser, willing but not obliged to buy, would pay an owner, willing but not obliged to sell, taking into consideration all uses to which the ...


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