Reassessment symposium: the video

INDIANA — On April 19, dozens of Indiana County citizens attended a public forum on real-estate reassessment for property-tax purposes. And they peppered expert panelists with questions about the issue — the county’s top news story of 2015.

Local news coverage of the public event was thorough. And IUP-TV plans to air the complete video. Meanwhile, for the record, the complete video recording of the 90-minute symposium is available here:

In the video, symposium panelists discuss the history, the reforms and the future of the property tax and of reassessment in Pennsylvania. And they 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.

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Sponsors of the knowledge-based-journalism forum included the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the IUP departments of Journalism & P.R., of Political Science and of Communications Media. Support was provided by the Elizabeth Ray Sweeney Trust.

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

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