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Deadline to mail values next year nearing

Time is running out if Luzerne County intends to mail out reassessment values next year – especially if the county plans to freshen up the values to reflect real estate market fluctuations that occurred during the one-year reassessment delay.

County Chief Clerk/Manager Sam Guesto said Thursday that he is trying to schedule a meeting with the reassessment company, probably within a week, to hash out all of the unresolved issues.

Guesto said a sit-down is in order because concerns aren’t being resolved fast enough through letters between the county Board of Assessment Appeals and reassessment company 21st Century Appraisals Inc.

The board sent a letter to 21st Century in October, seeking a list of information or services that were purchased but not delivered. 21st Century replied, but the county has not released that letter.

Commissioner Greg Skrepenak said earlier this week that reassessment is at a standstill until 21st Century produces the items requested.

Skrepenak said he wants the Board of Assessment Appeals to sign off on the values before they are mailed. In addition to valuing the board’s opinion, Skrepenak said the board must certify the values at the end of the year, and it would be a “Catch-22” for commissioners to exclude the board now and risk the values not being certified, he said.

“21st Century is dragging their feet on information we bought and paid for,” he said. “I’m increasingly getting frustrated with the lack of cooperation from 21st Century.”

Tim Barr, of 21st Century Appraisals, said he supports a meeting.

Barr said his company has been working “diligently” since the information was requested in October.

Some of the things had already been furnished, so Barr said he will submit another copy. Other items, such as public education brochures, had been on hold pending some county decisions, but Barr said he will comply with the best information he has available.

“We’ve continued to provide everything the county has asked for as quickly as possible when requested. We’re certainly not stalling or dragging our feet,” Barr said.

Guesto would not release copies of the two letters Thursday, saying that he and county Solicitor Jim Blaum are still determining if they are public record.

Minority Commissioner Stephen A. Urban said he believes they are clearly public records, and he’s questioning why he hasn’t received copies. He said Skrepenak has been doing a poor job of keeping him informed about what’s happening with reassessment since Skrepenak took over Urban’s role as reassessment liaison several months ago.

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