• Sun. Apr 11th, 2021

Burrell School District to appeal $53,000 reduction in Siemens real estate taxes

The Burrell School District plans to appeal a Westmoreland County assessment ruling that reduced the real estate tax assessment of Siemens Industry Inc. With the lower assessment, the school district stands to lose $53,000 this year.

The tax challenge adds to another legal action Burrell, along with Upper Burrell Township, are pursuing to prevent a substantial loss of tax revenue from Arconic Inc., the largest land owner in Upper Burrell. Siemens’ main operations site is at the Westmoreland Business and Research Park, and the Arconic Technology Center is off of Route 780.

Arconic has filed an appeal of its tax assessment with the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas, seeking a property assessment reduction that would result in the school district losing close to $500,000 per year.

With the two separate court actions, Burrell and Upper Burrell plan to fight the potential loss of tax revenue.

“The district is concerned any time one of our major commercial property owners files a real estate tax appeal because there is the potential for substantial lost revenue,” said Jennifer Callahan, Burrell’s business administrator.

Siemens is a U.S. subsidiary of Siemens AG, a global company that is a leading supplier of systems for power generation and transmission, as well as medical diagnostics.

Calls to Siemens for comment were not returned immediately.

Siemens appealed and won a reduced property valuation, submitting new property appraisals to the Westmoreland County Board of Assessment Appeals last October, said Anthony Giglio, an attorney with Andrews & Price in Forest Hills, legal counsel for the Burrell School District.

The school district and Upper Burrell plan to appeal this month to the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas the reduced tax assessment of two Siemens properties in Upper Burrell:

• Hunt Valley Road. There’s almost 13 acres, which had a market value of $10 million in 2020 that was reduced to $7.5 million for 2021. Siemens tax liability to the school district decreased from $131,000 last year to $98,000 the year, with the district losing $33,000 this year and potentially subsequent years.

• Prominence Drive. There’s about 7.4 acres, which had a market value of $4.4 million in 2020 that was reduced to $2.9 million for 2021. Siemens’ tax bill to the district decreased from $57,600 last year to $38,100 this year, so the district is losing nearly $20,000.

The school district plans to conduct its own appraisal as part of its appeal, said Giglio.

Upper Burrell will take a much smaller hit than the district in lost revenue. However, the township will fight with the district on the appeal, said Ross Walker, chairman of the Upper Burrell supervisors.

“We don’t know how much the reductions will be, but we will have to manage regardless,” he said.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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