The Centre County Assessment Office is responsible for maintaining the tax assessment roll for the local property tax levy. County government, seven school districts and 35 of the 36 municipalities levy property tax as a principal source of revenue. The Assessment Office maintains a listing and valuation inventory of approximately 58,000 parcels within the county.
Centre County is a 4th Class County and the Assessment Office is administered under 4th to 8th Class and General County Assessment law. This Class of Assessment Law requires a three-member Board of Assessment Appeals for the purpose of hearing Assessment Appeals. Appeals of assessments (PDF) can be submitted by property owners and taxing bodies alike, for the purpose of correcting over or under-assessed properties. Appeals (PDF) may be undertaken any year when filed on or before September 1, with results effective at the beginning of the subsequent tax year. In addition, an appeal may be filed within 40 days of an assessment change notice issued by this office after a change has occurred to a property effectively changing its market value.
Mass appraisal for property tax purposes is guided by the concepts of market value and uniformity. Generally, the real estate market is the measure of an accurate assessment, according to the concept of market value. Uniformity requires that like properties be assessed similarly throughout the county. Centre County's last reassessment became effective January 1, 1995. Assessed valued are based on property market values as of 1994. The predetermined ratio is 50%.
Our mapping department receives a variety of recorded documents from simple property sales to complex subdivisions. This department reviews and processes the various changes in order to update ownership records and Geographic Information System (GIS) maps as necessary. This department also administers the Uniform Parcel Identifier (UPI) Ordinance (PDF) and the Act 319/156 Clean and Green preferential assessment program, allowing for a reduced assessment for farm, open space, and woodland properties to promote continuing use of these property types. Under certain criteria of the Act, properties may enroll in Clean and Green before June 1 for the subsequent tax year.
The mapping department maintains parcel maps in an automated Geographical Information System (GIS). GIS is a system of computer hardware and software, which creates, stores and manipulates information that describes manmade and natural objects. Parcels, roads and building are just a few of the many data types that can be found.
The appraisal department within our office formulates assessed values as properties change or are newly created through subdivision. This department receives building permits for new construction, improvements or demolition from the municipalities. A Certified Pennsylvania Evaluator on staff visits the property to review improvements, and measure and record the characteristics of the property. The appraiser then formulates land and building values as necessary according to valuation parameters built into the mass appraisal software (CAMA) and other criteria unique to the property. The CAMA assembles market, cost or income data appropriate to the property type being reviewed and with the input of the appraiser, formulates an assessment that is uniform with similar properties.
The Assessment Office ensures assessment totals are correct and synchronized with the taxing authorities. The office also is responsible for preparing and distributing the county, municipal and school tax rolls as well as the interim tax rolls.
The County's Assessment records are public information and are accessible via computer terminals in the lobby of the Assessment Office or through subscription to the Centre County Government Web Information Access.