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JOHN J. AND RITA A. ALBARANO v. BOARD ASSESSMENT AND REVISION TAXES AND APPEALS (06/12/85)

decided: June 12, 1985.

JOHN J. AND RITA A. ALBARANO, APPELLANTS
v.
BOARD OF ASSESSMENT AND REVISION OF TAXES AND APPEALS, LYCOMING COUNTY, APPELLEE. ALFA ENTERPRISES, INC., APPELLANT V. BOARD OF ASSESSMENT AND REVISION OF TAXES AND APPEALS, LYCOMING COUNTY, APPELLEE



Appeals from the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County in the case of John Albarano v. Board of Assessment, No. 83-02-362, and in the case of Alfa v. Board of Assessment, No. 83-02-363, dated April 25, 1984.

COUNSEL

Scott Thayden Williams, Law offices of Henry P. Perciballi, for appellants.

E. Eugene Yaw, McNerney, Page, Vanderlin & Hall, for appellee.

Judges Doyle and Palladino and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri. Judge Williams, Jr., did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Barbieri

[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 90]

This is a consolidated appeal in which John and Rita Albarano and Alfa Enterprises, Inc., (Appellants) appeal here an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County. That order dismissed with prejudice their petitions for review of real estate tax assessments. We affirm.

The Albaranos own an apartment building in Old Lycoming Township known as Chatham Park Apartments. For the 1984 tax year, the Board of Assessment and Revision of Taxes and Appeals, Lycoming County (Board), assessed that property at $286,550. Alfa Enterprises, Inc., owns several apartment buildings in Williamsport. For the 1984 tax year, the Board assessed Alfa's Hepburn Street property at $70,110; its High Street property at $91,970; and its Sheridan Street property at $87,410. Appellants appealed those assessments to the Board. The Board held a hearing on October 6, 1983 and, on October 11, 1983, it affirmed the assessments as stated.

[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 91]

Appellants then appealed the assessments to the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County which heard the appeal de novo. After the Board had placed its assessment record into evidence without objection, the common pleas court called upon Appellants to present evidence as to market value. Appellants stated that they were not prepared to offer evidence as to market value, rather they desired to challenge the uniformity of the assessments by presenting assessments of properties comparable with theirs. The common pleas court determined that, in the context of the statutory appeal, it could not consider assessments of comparable properties. When Appellants failed to produce any evidence as to market value, the common pleas court dismissed their assessment appeals with prejudice. Timely appeals were filed with this Court.

In this appeal, Appellants present several assignments of error which challenge the uniformity of their assessments, the evidentiary support for the common pleas court's order and the common pleas court's decision not to consider assessments of comparable properties. We are cognizant, of course, that our scope of review in a tax case such as this, where the common pleas court has heard the matter de novo, is limited to a determination of whether that court's decision is supported by substantial evidence, is in accordance with law, and whether or not that court abused its discretion. Sabarese v. Tax Claim Bureau of Monroe County, 69 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 442, 445, 451 A.2d 793, 794 (1982); Scott Township Tax Assessment Case, 31 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 505, 508, 377 A.2d 826, 827 (1977).

We shall first consider Appellant's contention that the Board failed to sustain its burden of making out a prima facie case on the validity of its assessment.

[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 92]

The Board introduced into evidence its assessment record without objection from Appellants. This, without more, was sufficient to satisfy the Board's burden of establishing the prima facie validity of its assessment. United States Steel Corp. Tax Assessment Case, 436 Pa. 435, 260 A.2d 779 (1970). Once the Board established the prima facie validity of its assessment by placing its assessment record into evidence, the burden then shifted to Appellants to produce sufficient competent, credibile, and relevant evidence to overcome the assessment's prima facie validity. See Dietch Company v. Board of Property Assessment, 417 ...


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