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SHOPE TAX ASSESSMENT CASE (06/13/69)

decided: June 13, 1969.

SHOPE TAX ASSESSMENT CASE


Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, April T., 1968, No. 441, in re property assessments of William B. Shope et ux.

COUNSEL

Ila Jeanne Sensenich, for appellant.

Henry B. Waltz, Jr., County Solicitor, for appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Cercone, JJ. Opinion by Montgomery, J.

Author: Montgomery

[ 214 Pa. Super. Page 317]

Appellants William B. and Dorothy K. Shope, his wife, are the owners of property in the Township of Hempfield, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, which consists of 23.35 acres of land with a house and a horse barn erected thereon. It was assessed for tax purposes by the official assessors of that county for the year of 1968 at $23,550. On appeal to the Board for the Assessment and Revision of Taxes (Board) of Westmoreland County, the assessment was reduced to $18,800. The owners, still feeling aggrieved by the reduced assessment and believing it to be excessive, unfair, unjust and unequal, petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of that county for a revision of same under the Act of May 21, 1943, P.L. 571, Art. VII, § 704, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5453.704. After a hearing on the petition the assessment was sustained and this appeal followed.

Lack of uniformity with other assessments in Westmoreland County is the basic issue, appellants contending that under the evidence the court erred in sustaining an assessment which bore a higher ratio of assessed value to fair market value than that which prevailed in the taxing district. The court found that the Board applies a ratio of 25% throughout the county and that the ratio of the $18,800 assessment of appellants' property to $90,000, which it found to be its

[ 214 Pa. Super. Page 318]

    fair market value, was not in excess of the figures applied by the Board generally.

The finding of fair market value is supported by the record. Mrs. Shope testified without objection that she and her husband purchased the land in February, 1967, for $30,000 and constructed the residence thereon at a cost of $63,200, and are holding $5,000 due the contractor until he completely fulfills his contract, that the stable cost $6,800, and that they had spent about $500 for trees, seeds, and fencing, which they planted and built, or a total of approximately $100,500. Their real estate expert testified that in his opinion the property had a fair market value of $65,000. However, the real estate expert offered by the Board testified it was worth $95,000. The Board, over objections, also offered the testimony of two other men who had appraised the property for a mortgage. One of these men, Mr. Keim, director of the Greensburg Savings and Loan Association which had placed a loan on the property of $68,776, testified it had a fair market value of $99,776. The other man, Mr. Boyle, Sr., who regularly made appraisals for the bank, testified to $90,000 without the consideration of the barn, which had not been built at the time of his appraisal.

The qualifications of Mr. Keim and Mr. Boyle were not questioned. The only question now being raised is that their testimony should not have been considered because of the purpose of their appraisals, i.e., for a mortgage. Park's Appeal, 334 Pa. 193, 5 A.2d 561 (1939),*fn1 relied on by appellants, is not authority for ruling inadmissible the testimony of such a witness.

[ 214 Pa. Super. Page 319]

The Supreme Court said in that case that it should be given, at page 196, A.2d 562, "No special significance." (Emphasis supplied) However, in the present case both witnesses testified that, although they were appraising the property for a mortgage, their intentions were to appraise it at its fair market value. We find no merit in this argument. It was for the lower court to evaluate this testimony in the light that it was given, and by its opinion we note that it did so in the proper manner. We note ...


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