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Title 252--ALLEGHENY COUNTY RULES

ALLEGHENY COUNTY

Adoption of Rule 503; Rules Doc. No. 2008-2-PJ

[38 Pa.B. 3483]
[Saturday, June 28, 2008]

Order of Court

   And Now, to-wit, this 10th day of June, 2008, pursuant to action of the Board of Judges, the within new Local Rule 503 affecting the Civil Division of the Court of Common Pleas is adopted, effective thirty (30) days after publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

By the Court,

JOSEPH M. JAMES,   
President Judge

Local Rule 503. Appeals From Real Estate Tax Assessment.

   The following provisions shall govern all tax assessment appeals from the Disposition of Appeal from Real Estate Assessment of the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review:

   Note: Under the former Local Rule 502, there was some confusion regarding whether Local Rule 502 applied both to tax assessment appeals and to tax exemption appeals from the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review. New Local Rule 503 applies only to tax assessment appeals. For procedure governing tax exemption appeals, see Local Rule 504.

   (1)  Parties.

   (a)  The following parties must be listed in the caption of the appeal:

   (i)  owners of the real estate and/or taxable property;

   (ii)  the municipality in which the property is located;

   (iii)  the school district in which the property is located; and

   (iv)  the County of Allegheny.

   (b)  Any entity other than those set forth in subsection (1)(a) of this local rule must file a Petition to Intervene with the Real Estate Tax Appeals Judge in accordance with the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure to become a party.

   (2)  Caption.

   (a)  The party filing the appeal shall be designated as the petitioner. All other parties shall be designated as respondents or interested parties.

   (b)  The caption and cover sheet shall clearly state whether the appeal involves commercial or residential property.

   (3)  Time For and Content of Appeals.

   (a)  An appeal from the Disposition of Appeal from Real Estate Assessment of the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review must be filed with the Department of Court Records, Civil Division, within thirty (30) days of the date of mailing by the Board of the notice of its Disposition of Appeal from Real Estate Assessment.

   (b)  An appeal shall be in substantially similar form as set forth in Petition for Assessment Appeal (FORM 503(3)) (see subsection (20)(a) below) and shall contain the following:

   (i)  the names of the parties;

   (ii)  an identification of the property by address, lot and block number;

   (iii)  whether the property is residential or commercial; and

   (iv)  the name of the party that appealed to the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review.

   Note:  The Petitioner, in filing a Petition for Appeal from Disposition of the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review, is deemed to have raised all challenges to the assessment that the law permits.

   (4)  Notice. Service.

   Petitioner shall give notice of the appeal by first class mail, postage prepaid, to all parties and the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review, within seven (7) days of the filing of the appeal, and shall file proof of service thereof.

   (5)  Action Required of Department of Court Records, Civil Division.

   (a)  Upon the docketing of any appeal from a Disposition of Appeal from Real Estate Assessment of the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review, the Department of Court Records, Civil Division, shall obtain the information contained in the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review's Disposition of Appeal from Real Estate Assessment.

   (b)  Upon obtaining the information contained in the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review's Disposition of Appeal from Real Estate Assessment, the Department of Court Records, Civil Division, shall place this information in the court file in hard copy form, and make it available on the Department's publicly accessible website in electronic form.

   (6)  Filing of Appeals.

   The filing of an appeal by any party shall act as an appeal by all parties.

   (7)  Withdrawal of Appeals.

   No appeal may be withdrawn without the consent of all other parties or leave of court. Any party who fails to appear at the conciliation without prior notice to the Board of Viewers shall be deemed to have consented to the withdrawal of the appeal.

   (8)  Motions.

   All motions in real estate tax assessment appeals shall be presented to the Real Estate Tax Appeals Judge.

   (9)  Board of Viewers.

   All tax assessment appeals from a Disposition of Appeal from Real Estate Assessment of the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review shall be assigned to a Board of Viewers appointed by the Administrative Judge of the Civil Division pursuant to 72 P. S. § 5020-518.1.

   (10)  Discovery.

   (a)  In all cases involving non-residential property, the taxing bodies may serve a copy of Tax Assessment Appeal Discovery Requests, (FORM 503(10)) (see subsection (20)(b) below) on the taxpayer. The taxpayer shall furnish the information sought in the Discovery Requests within forty-five (45) days after receipt thereof.

   (b)  No party may seek additional discovery through Interrogatories, Request for Production of Documents or otherwise until discovery has been sought through the Tax Assessment Appeal Discovery Requests. Parties seeking additional discovery or any discovery in cases involving residential property must petition the Real Estate Tax Appeal Judge for discovery, who may refer the petition to the Administrative Chair of the Board of Viewers for recommendation.

   (c)  Any discovery disputes, including without limitation any Motion(s) for Protective Order or Motion(s) to Compel, shall be presented upon proper notice to the Real Estate Tax Appeal Judge.

   (d)  Discovery shall conclude sixty-five (65) days prior to the date scheduled for conciliation.

   (11)  Conciliation.

   (a)  All appeals shall be conciliated prior to a hearing by the panel of the Board of Viewers assigned to hear the appeal.

   (b)  At the time of conciliation, all parties or their counsel shall be present with full authority to effectuate a settlement of the appeal.

   Note:  Parties and counsel are advised to pay particular attention to the notice of conciliation. In appropriate cases, the conciliation and hearing may be scheduled on the same day. In such instances, the parties must appear at the conciliation ready to move directly into a hearing if the conciliation does not result in settlement.

   (c)  If any party fails to comply with the provisions of this local rule, the Board of Viewers may include in their report a recommendation for the imposition of appropriate sanctions, including but not limited to, attorneys' fees and costs against the party or parties failing to comply.

   (12)  Pre-Trial Statement in Non-Residential Tax Assessment Appeal.

   (a)  Sixty (60) days prior to the date scheduled for conciliation of a non-residential tax assessment appeal, the petitioner shall distribute to all counsel of record, or if counsel have not entered an appearance on the party(ies), and to the panel of the Board of Viewers assigned to the case a pre-trial statement. The pre-trial statement shall incorporate the following information or documents:

   (i)  a description of the user of the real estate and the nature of the real estate;

   (ii)  a list of all persons who will give testimony in the trial of this appeal;

   (iii)  a list of all exhibits which the party intends to use at trial;

   (iv)  any report, including without limitation an expert report or appraisal, of any person or entity who has been retained, employed, or consulted by the parties, who will give testimony in the trial of this appeal.

   Note:  Former Local Rule 502 required only the owner of non-residential property to file a conciliation statement. Local Rule 503 has been redrafted to require, in an appeal of non-residential property, both the taxpayer and the taxing bodies to file pre-trial statements. In conjunction with the change from a ''conciliation'' statement to a ''pre-trial'' statement, new Local Rule 503 shifts the focus of the parties' anticipated evidence at trial and eliminates the need to list information that will not be part of the party's case at trial. Local Rule 503 also requires parties to include in the pre-trial statement any expert reports and/or appraisals. By its terms, this subsection (12) does not apply to residential tax assessment appeals.

   (b)  Twenty (20) days prior to the date scheduled for conciliation of a non-residential tax assessment appeal, the respondent(s) shall distribute to all counsel of record, or if counsel have not entered an appearance, on the party(ies), and to the panel of the Board of Viewers assigned to the case, a pre-trial statement. The pre-trial statement shall incorporate the following information or documents:

   (i)  a description of the use of the real estate and the nature of the real estate;

   (ii)  a list of all persons who will give testimony in the trial of this appeal;

   (iii)  a list of all exhibits which the party intends to use at trial;

   (iv)  any report, including without limitation an expert report or appraisal, of any person or entity who has been retained, employed, or consulted by the parties, who will give testimony in the trial of this appeal.

   (c)  All interested parties whose interests are aligned with the petitioner shall distribute their Pre-Trial Statement in accordance with subsection (12)(a) of this local rule. All interested parties whose interests are aligned with the respondent(s) shall distribute their Pre-Trial Statement in accordance with subsection (12)(b) of this local rule.

   (d)  The failure to comply with subsections (12)(a), (12)(b) and (12)(c) of this local rule shall result in appropriate relief, which may include the exclusion or limitation at trial of testimony or evidence which was not provided in the pre-trial statement or a recommendation for the imposition of attorneys' fees and costs against the party or parties failing to comply.

   (13)  Hearing.

   (a)  The Board of Viewers shall schedule a hearing and shall provide notice of the hearing to all parties and/or counsel of record. The notice shall be sent by regular mail and shall state that if any party fails to appear at the hearing it will proceed without them or the appeal will be dismissed with prejudice.

   Note:  Parties and counsel are advised to pay particular attention to the notice of hearing. In appropriate cases, the conciliation and hearing may be scheduled on the same day. In such instances, the parties must appear at the conciliation ready to move directly into a hearing if the conciliation does not result in settlement.

   (b)  The hearing shall be recorded by a court reporter.

   (c)  The Board of Viewers, at its discretion, may continue the hearing.

   (14)  Report.

   Following the hearing, the Board of Viewers shall file its written Special Masters Report and Recommendation with the Department of Court Records, Civil Division. This Special Masters Report along with a Notice in substantially similar form as set forth in Notice (FORM 503(14)) (see subsection 20(c) below), shall be mailed to all counsel or parties if not represented by counsel.

   (15)  Objections. Trial Transcript.

   (a)  The parties may file objections to the Special Masters Report and Recommendation within ten (10) days of receipt of the Special Masters Report and Recommendation and Notice. Objections must be accompanied by a certification of counsel, or a party if unrepresented, that the trial transcript, or necessary portions of the transcript, have been ordered from the court reporter and paid for. Copies of the objections and certification shall be filed with the Department of Court Records, Civil Division, and served on all counsel of record or party(ies) if unrepresented, and the Board of Viewers.

   (b)  If no trial transcript is filed within ninety (90) days of the date the Objections were filed, the Administrative Chair of the Board of Viewers shall send the objecting party a letter, with copies to all counsel and parties not represented by counsel, stating that the transcript must be paid for and filed within thirty (30) days of the date of the letter, and that if no transcript is filed within that time period, then a court order will be issued overruling the objections with prejudice. (FORMS 503(15A) and 503(15B)) (see subsections 20(d) and 20(e) below).

   Note:  If, through no inaction on the part of the objecting party the court reporter is unable to meet the deadline set for filing of the transcript in the letter from the Administrative Chair, the objecting party may ask for an extension of time from the Administrative Chair.

   (16)  Briefs on Objections.

   (a)  Within twenty (20) days of the date on which the transcript is filed of record, the objecting party shall file a Brief in Support of Objections and shall serve a copy on all counsel of record or if counsel have not entered their appearance on the party(ies), and the Board of Viewers. The Brief in Support of Objections shall refer to transcript page numbers where possible.

   (b)  If no brief is filed within twenty (20) days of the date the transcript is filed, the Administrative Chair of the Board of Viewers shall send the objecting party a letter, with copies to all counsel or parties not represented by counsel, stating that if a brief is not filed within twenty (20) days of the date of the letter, then a court order will be entered overruling the objections with prejudice. (FORMS 503(16A) and 503(16B)) (see subsections (20)(f) and (20)(g) below).

   Note:  If a Brief in Support of Objections has been filed by a taxing body, other taxing bodies may rely on that brief, and in such event the Administrative Chair will not send a FORM 503(16A) letter to the other taxing bodies.

   (17)  Opposing Briefs.

   (a)  Within twenty (20) days after the moving party has filed its Brief in Support of Objections, responding parties shall file their Briefs in Opposition to Objections and serve a copy on all counsel of record or on the party(ies) if unrepresented, and the Board of Viewers.

   (b)  If no Brief in Opposition is filed and served within twenty (20) days, the Administrative Chair of the Board of Viewers shall send the opposing party(ies) a letter, with copies to all counsel and parties not represented by counsel, stating that if an opposing brief is not filed within twenty (20) days of the date of the letter, the decision will be made without reference to any brief that you may file thereafter. (FORM 503(17)) (see subsections (20)(h) below).

   Note:  If a Brief in Opposition has been filed by a taxing body, other taxing bodies may rely on that brief, and the Administrative Chair will not send a FORM 503(17) letter to the other taxing bodies.

   (18)  Decision.

   After the filing date set for Briefs in Opposition to Objections has passed, the objecting party shall notify the Board of Viewers that the matter is ripe for decision by filing a Notice That Matter is Ripe for Decision (FORM 503(18)) (see subsection (20)(i)(below). The objecting party shall serve a copy of this Notice on all counsel of record or if counsel have not entered their appearance, on the party(ies), and upon the Board of Viewers. Upon receipt of the Notice, the Administrative Chair of the Board of Viewers shall advise the Court, which shall schedule oral argument or decide the objections on the briefs without oral argument.

   (19)  Final Order.

   In the event that none of the parties files Objections as described above, the Special Masters Report and Recommendation shall become the final Order of Court. The Administrative Judge of the Civil Division, or another judge assigned by the Administrative Judge, will enter an Order of Court to this effect.

   (20)  Forms

      (a)

FORM 503(3) Petition for Assessment Appeal

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

(Name),CIVIL DIVISION
Petitioner,No. BV ______
      v.
(Name or Names),COMMERCIAL / RESIDENTIAL
(choose one)
Respondents.
REAL ESTATE INVOLVED
INTERESTED PARTIES
(if applicable):
 
(Names)
Petition for Appeal from Disposition of the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review

PETITION FOR APPEAL FROM DISPOSITION OF THE BOARD OF PROPERTY ASSESSMENT APPEALS AND REVIEW

   This Petition for Appeal from Disposition of the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review is filed pursuant to Local Rule 503(3) by (name):

   1.  The owner of this commercial/residential (choose one) real estate and/or taxable property is (name), and the address of this real estate is (address) (the ''Property''). The Property has been assigned lot and block number (fill in).

   2.  The County of Allegheny, the municipality (fill in) and the school district (fill in) are the taxing bodies interested in the taxable status of the Property.

   3.  The Office of Property Assessments made an assessment of the Property. (Name) appealed from this assessment to the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review (the ''Board'') asking that the assessment be reduced/raised (choose one). The Board is authorized pursuant to the Administrative Code of Allegheny County to hear all appeals from assessments made by the Office of Property Assessments.

   4.  Following a hearing, a Disposition of Appeal from Real Estate Assessment was mailed by the Board. The information contained in the Board's Disposition of Appeal from Real Estate Assessment shall be placed in the court records, both in paper and electronic form, by the Department of Court Records, Civil Division.

   5.  Petitioner is filing this appeal to the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County.

   WHEREFORE, Petitioner requests this Honorable Court to set the assessment to such amount as may be right and proper.

Date:  ______   __________(Signature)                        

   NOTE: Under Pennsylvania law the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County can increase or decrease the assessment, no matter who appealed.

      (b)

FORM 503(10) Tax Assessment Appeal Discovery Requests

[CASE CAPTION, INCLUDING DOCKET NUMBER]

   AND NOW, comes (name) and serves the within Tax Assessment Appeal Discovery Requests upon (name). Pursuant to Local Rule 503(10), all applicable responses to these Requests must be furnished within forty-five (45) days after the receipt of these Requests.

REQUESTS FOR DOCUMENTS

   Please produce a copy of the following:

   1.  Any and all surveys (land, structural, environmental, etc.), building plans and site plans showing design construction and location of the subject property.

   2.  Any and all mortgages, promissory notes, deeds, and agreements of sale made or assumed on the subject property within the last three years and the corresponding closing statements.

   3.  Any and all appraisals or evaluations on the subject property which have been made during the last three years.

   4.  Any and all loan applications of any kind involving or relating to the subject property which have been signed or submitted within the past three years.

   5.  Any and all leases, land leases, agreements, licenses, occupancy schedules, rent schedules (or rolls) relating to the subject property for the last three years.

   6.  Any and all written listing agreements, offers to purchase or offers to sell the subject property made within the last three years.

   7.  Any and all soil tests or mineral evaluations, permit requests, permits, requests relative to zoning variance, or similar applications or requests to any governmental body within the past three years concerning the subject property and the result of any such applications or requests.

   8.  Any and all federal and state Income Tax Returns and audited financial statements with respect to the subject property within the last three years.

   9.  Any and all corporate or partnership prospectus or private placement memorandum that contain any reference to the value of the subject property within the last three years.

   10.  Any and all insurance policies and/or binders covering the subject property, its building contents, buildings or any business located thereon from the last three years.

   11.  Any and all documents which describe in whole or in part any physical improvements to the subject property (whether by the owner or by a tenant) within the last three years.

   12.  Any and all documents listing or describing capital improvement(s) made to the subject property over the past three years including the costs of the capital improvements and the completion date(s).

   13.  Any and all documents relating to leasing commissions paid with respect to the subject property over the last three years including the corresponding tenant space, the commission paid, and the date.

INTERROGATORIES

   Please provide the following information:

   1.  The name, address and telephone number of the person to contact regarding conducting an inspection of the subject property.

Date:  ______   __________(Signature)                        

   (c)

FORM 503(14) NOTICE

NOTICE

   Pursuant to the provisions of 72 P. S. § 5020-518.1(c) and Local Rule 503(9), attached is the Report of the Special Master.

   Any party objecting to the Report shall file Objections at the Secondary Desk of the Department of Court Records, Civil Division, on the First Floor of the City-County Building, 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, with ten (10) days of the receipt of this Notice. Objections must be accompanied by a certification of counsel or of the objecting party, if unrepresented, that the trial transcript, or necessary portions of the transcript, have been ordered from the Court Reporter's Office (Room 415, County Office Building, 412-350-5414) and paid for by the objecting party. Copies of the Objections and certification shall be served on the Administrative Chair of the Board of Viewers (Room 811, City-County Building) and on all counsel of record or the parties, if unrepresented.

   In the event that none of the parties files Objections, the Report and Recommendation of the Special Master will be adopted as the final Order of Court.

ADMINISTRATIVE CHAIR
DATED:  ______      BOARD OF VIEWERS

      (d)

FORM 503(15A) Letter

Re:  [ case name and docket number ]

Dear [ Objecting Party ],

   It has been ninety (90) days since you filed your Objections to the Masters Report in the subject case and no trial transcript has been filed with the Department of Court Records, Civil Division. You must contact the court reporter and the transcript must be paid for and filed within thirty (30) days of the date of this letter. See Local Rule 503(15).

   If the transcript has not been paid for and filed within thirty (30) days of the date of this letter, A COURT ORDER PURSUANT TO LOCAL RULE 503(15)(b) WILL BE ISSUED OVERRULING THE OBJECTIONS WITH PREJUDICE.

Very truly yours,                                
Administrative Chair, Board of Viewers

      (e)

FORM 503(15B)

[ CAPTION INCLUDING DOCKET NUMBER ]

ORDER OF COURT

   On this _____ day of ______ , 20 ____ , it appearing that ninety (90) days after the Objections in this case were filed, a letter dated ______  was mailed by the Board of Viewers' Administrative Chair to the objecting party; this letter stated that within thirty (30) days from the date of the letter, the trial transcript must be paid for and filed; thirty (30) days have passed since the date of the letter; and the transcript has not been filed.

   IT IS ORDERED THAT, pursuant to Local Rule 503(15)(b) the objections in this case are overruled with prejudice.

BY THE COURT:                  
_________________

      (f)

FORM 503(16A) Letter

Re: [ case name and docket number ]

Dear [ Objecting Party ],

   It has been twenty (20) days since the transcript in the referenced case was filed with the Department of Court Records, Civil Division. Pursuant to Local Rule 503(16)(a), your brief is now overdue. If it is not filed and served within twenty (20) days of the date of this letter, A COURT ORDER PURSUANT TO LOCAL RULE 503(16)(b) WILL BE ISSUED OVERRULING YOUR OBJECTIONS WITH PREJUDICE.

Very truly yours,                                
Administrative Chair, Board of Viewers

      (g)

FORM 503(16B) Court Order

[CAPTION INCLUDING DOCKET NUMBER]

ORDER OF COURT

   On this _____ day of ______ , 20 ____ , it appearing that twenty (20) days after the transcript in this case was filed, a letter dated ______  was mailed by the Board of Viewers' Administrative Chair to the objecting party; this letter stated that if a brief is not filed by the objecting party and served within twenty (20) days of the date of the letter, a court order will be issued overruling the objections with prejudice; twenty (20) days have passed since the date of the letter; and the objecting party has not filed a brief,

   IT IS ORDERED THAT, pursuant to Local Rule 503(16)(b) the objections in this case are overruled with prejudice.

BY THE COURT                    

______ J. __

      (h)

FORM 503(17) Letter

Re: [ case name and docket number ]

Dear [ Opposing Party ]:

   It has been twenty (20) days since the Objecting Party filed a Brief in Support of Objections and no brief in opposition has been filed by you. If no Brief in Opposition is filed and served within (20) days of the date of this letter, the decision will be made without reference to any brief that you may file thereafter.

      (i)

FORM 503(18) Notice That Matter Is Ripe for Decision

[CASE CAPTION, INCLUDING DOCKET NUMBER]

NOTICE THAT MATTER IS RIPE FOR DECISION

   AND NOW, comes (name) and notifies this Honorable Court pursuant to Local Rule 503(18) that this matter is ripe for decision and requests that this Honorable Court schedule oral argument or decide the objections on the briefs at its convenience.

   A Brief in Opposition to the Objections ____ has ____ has not (please check appropriate line) been filed.

Date:  ______   __________(Signature)                        

   Editor's Note: Adopted October 4, 2006, effective December 4, 2006. Amended June 5, 2008, effective ____ , 2008.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 08-1186. Filed for public inspection June 27, 2008, 9:00 a.m.]



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