Public pocketbook symposium on Pa. property tax, April 19

A Preview

By Ethan Brogan

INDIANA – The Society for Professional Journalists at Indiana University of Pennsylvania is sponsoring a knowledge-based-journalism symposium to discuss property-tax reassessment on Tuesday, April 19, 5-6:30 p.m., in the Hadley Union Building’s Ohio Room. Citizens and students are invited to the free public event.

Listen to a one-minute podcast promoting the April 19 public symposium on real-estate reassessment for property-tax purposes.

The reassessment issue was Indiana County’s top news story of 2015.

Symposium panelists will discuss the history, the reforms and the future of the property tax and reassessment in Pennsylvania. And they will answer audience questions.

Panelists include:

* Brian O’Neill, a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, winner of the 2015 Society of Professional Journalists’ Spotlight Award for daily commentary. O’Neill has written about his appeal of his Allegheny County real estate assessment of his North Side home. The hearing, O’Neill wrote, was “Kafkaesque.” “Your odds would be better at a casino,” he argued. O’Neill has bachelor degrees in journalism and English from Syracuse University.

* Robert P. Strauss, Ph.D., is professor of economics and public policy at the H. John Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh. Strauss has served as director of research at the Pennsylvania Tax Commission. He was appointed to the Pennsylvania Local Tax Reform Commission to advise Gov. Robert Casey on local tax reform. Strauss’ research helped produce the 2012-2013 “Property Tax Estimator for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.” He will review a consulting firm’s Feb. 2, 2016, report to Indiana County commissioners on the county’s controversial 2015 property reassessment.

* Jeffrey A. Weber, Ph.D., is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. From 1994 to 2005, Weber worked in the Pennsylvania Senate as the deputy director of the Republican Policy Development and Research Office. He has conducted multiple studies of Pennsylvania property taxes for the Pennsylvania Senate and for the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. He served as an advisor on property taxes to various state-representative and state-senate campaigns and has served on a committee analyzing property taxes for two school districts. He is writing a book about the state’s property tax.

For more information, including bios of symposium panelists and curated research and information about property taxes in Pennsylvania, visit the IUP SPJ website or contact symposium moderator David O. Loomis, Ph.D., Department of Journalism and Public Relations, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, at, or phone 724-357-4411.

Ethan C. Brogan, a journalism major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is from Pittsburgh.

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