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PITTSBURGH-DES MOINES STEEL CO. v. LEO J. MCLAUGHLIN ET AL. (10/17/83)

decided: October 17, 1983.

PITTSBURGH-DES MOINES STEEL CO., INC., APPELLANT
v.
LEO J. MCLAUGHLIN ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co. v. Leo J. McLaughlin, Sterling W. Perkins, William T. Dougherty, John W. Tompel, Glenn C. Jones, Esquire, Harry N. Snydor, Paul F. Bertha, John R. O'Connell and The Board of Assessment Appeals of Allegheny County, and County of Allegheny and Neville Township and Cornell School District, No. GD 81-8460.

COUNSEL

Henry T. Reath, with him Alexis J. Anderson and Barbara E. Sanson, Duane, Morris & Heckscher, and Andrew L. Weil, Rose, Schmidt, Dixon, Hasley, Whyte & Hardesty, for appellant.

Vincent A. Tuzceri, with him Robert L. Federline, Thomas J. Dempsey, William P. Bresnahan and Larry P. Gaitens, for appellees.

Judges Craig, Barry and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 77 Pa. Commw. Page 567]

In this consolidated appeal, Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company (PDM) challenges two orders which the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County entered in PDM's appeal to that court, seeking reduction of the tax assessment for its industrial property;*fn1 the first order established the fair market value and tax assessment for PDM's property, and the second dismissed PDM's exceptions to the earlier order.

We must decide (1) whether the trial court properly dismissed PDM's exceptions, and whether that court (2) based its determination of the fair market value of the property on competent and relevant evidence, (3) erred in evidentiary rulings, or (4) erroneously increased the tax assessment.

PDM initially appealed the tax assessment to the Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review. That board lowered the assessment, but PDM nevertheless appealed the board's decision to the court of common pleas. After trial, that court increased the assessment for PDM's property; however, the court's figure remains below that of the original assessment.

1. Dismissal of Exceptions

Because no procedural rule or order provides for the filing of exceptions in this statutory appeal proceeding, we affirm Administrative Judge Papadakos'

[ 77 Pa. Commw. Page 568]

    order, dated October 26, 1982, which dismissed PDM's exceptions. Appeal of Sgro, 67 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 304, 447 A.2d 325 (1982).

2. Determination of Fair Market Value

PDM contends that the trial court erroneously based its determination of fair market value on the appraisal report and testimony of the taxing authorities' expert, Mr. Ellis, who allegedly had employed impermissible methods of valuation in reaching his opinion. More specifically, PDM argues that Ellis used the reproduction cost and value-in-use methods, both of which are inadmissible to establish the fair market value of the property.*fn2 Therefore, PDM contends, the testimony of its expert, Mr. Coyle, was the only competent evidence on the question of fair market value.

In a tax assessment appeal, the trial court hears the case de novo and must determine the fair market value of the property based on the competent, credible and relevant evidence. If, as is typically true, the expert testimony conflicts, the trial court must determine the weight and credibility it will afford to each expert. An appellate court will not disturb a trial court's finding on fair market ...


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