RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

Real Estate Assessment • Appeals

In Re Appeal of P-Ville Ass’n, PICS Case No. 14-0391 (Pa. Commw. March 6, 2014) Leavitt, J. (11 pages).

P-Ville Associates appealed an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County dismissing P-Ville’s appeal of its 2013 real estate assessment. The trial court erred in concluding that the 2013 assessment was not automatically appealed by virtue of P-Ville’s pending appeal of the Board of Assessment’s dismissal of its nunc pro tunc appeal of its 2011 assessment. Reversed and remanded.

P-Ville owns land in Chester County. On June 15, 2011 the Chester County Assessment Office issued an “interim” assessment notice that increased P-Ville’ real estate assessment by about $1,500,00 effective on July 26, 2011. P-Ville missed the deadline to appeal this assessment, but filed a nunc pro tunc appeal on Dec. 1, 2011 asserting it did not get notice of the interim assessment, arguing that the notice did not comply with statutory requirements and was void ab initio and challenging the merits of the fair market evaluation of the property.

The board denied the nunc pro tunc appeal on Dec. 5, 2011 without addressing P-Ville’s arguments and P-Ville filed a timely appeal to the trial court. While the appeal was under consideration by the trial court, the board issued an assessment for the tax year 2013 for the property in question. P-Ville did not appeal this 2013 assessment. The trial court denied P-Ville’s petition for a nunc pro tunc appeal finding that the 2011 interim assessment notice was mailed to P-Ville’s correct address and that P-Ville knew of the assessment at least by Oc. 15, 2011. P-Ville’s Dec. 1, 2011 appeal was not sufficiently prompt to warrant a nunc pro tunc appeal. P-Ville did not appeal this order.

The trial court scheduled a hearing for March 4, 2013 which P-Ville believed was to consider the merits of its 2013 real estate as-sessment which had been automatically appealed by virtue of the pending nunc pro tunc appeal of the 2011 interim assessment. The board, however, believed the hearing was a mistake and filed a motion in limine to have it cancelled, asserting that the trial court’s denial of P-Ville’s petition meant that the 2013 assessment was not automatically appealed. The trial court granted the board’s motion, holding that the 2013 assessment was not automatically appealed.

P-Ville asserted that the trial court’s dismissal of its appeal of the 2013 assessment was based on an erroneous interpretation of the automatic appeal provision in the county assessment law. P-Ville argued that its petition for a nunc pro tunc appeal for the 2011 interim assessment was pending with the trial court on Aug. 1, 2012, the deadline for appealing the 2013 assessment and therefore, the 2013 assessment was automatically appealed. The Consolidated County Assessment Law §8854(a)(5) provides that so long as an assessment “appeal is pending” before the board or trial court, subsequent assessments are automatically appealed. This court has held that an appeal remains “pending” until a final determination has been made. Thus, a “pending appeal”, even an untimely one, means the trial court has jurisdiction over the subsequent year tax assessments. In this case, the rationale of Wilson Townhouses held that because the trial court had jurisdiction to grant a final order, it had jurisdiction over subsequent annual assessments issued prior to the issuance of the trial court’s final order.

P-Ville’s nunc pro tunc appeal of the 2011 assessment was pending because the trial court had jurisdiction to rule on it. Therefore, the trial court had jurisdiction to decide the appeal of the assessment for the tax year 2013. The 2013 assessment had a “separate status” and continued to exist despite the dismissal of the original appeal. The matter was remanded for the trial court to consider the merits of P-Ville’s assessment appeal for 2013.