Township Assigns Solicitor in Sunnybrook Assessment Appeal

The Lower Pottsgrove municipal building on Buchert Road

SANATOGA PA – In a case that could affect tax revenues collected by both the Pottsgrove School District and Lower Pottsgrove Township, the owners of Sunnybrook Ballroom are appealing a Montgomery County property assessment hearing decision against reducing the estimated fair market value of its location at 50 Sunnybrook Rd., according to township Manager Ed Wagner.

At Wagner’s request, the township Board of Commissioners agreed Thursday (Dec. 17, 2020) to have Solicitor Charles Garner formally intervene in the case as Lower Pottsgrove’s representative. The assignment allows Garner to monitor developments, report to the board, and if necessary act on its behalf.

The school district is already represented in the matter by its law firm, Fox Rothschild LLP, Garner reported.

The value of the property reaches into the million-dollar range, Wagner said, and added the county Board of Assessment Appeals during its hearing found “no reason to change” the assessment.

Real estate taxes collected by the district, township, and county are based on assessed property values, with tax amounts charged on each $1,000 of estimated worth. Because the school district’s tax rate is significantly higher than either of the others, it stands the most to lose should the parcel’s assessed value decline, Garner noted.

Both the district and township have, in recent years, annually dealt with such appeals. Many end as negotiated settlements between the parties. Several have resulted in lower assessed values; some parties have received rebates of taxes already paid, or had that money applied as a credit on future tax bills.

The district Board of School Directors, during its Dec. 1 meeting, approved unrelated assessment appeal settlements for commercial properties at 600 Heritage Dr., 440 Creekside Dr., and 800-1000 Heritage Dr., all in Lower Pottsgrove. During the 2019-2020 school tax year, the parcels involved had a collective value of $4.84 million. By the 2021-2022 tax year, their collective value under the settlements will drop to $4.46 million, reducing future taxes due.

Negotiations in those and other settlements, school district Solicitor Marc Davis explained, hinge in part on “what appraisers tell us.” He acknowledged earlier assessed values often cannot be supported in the current market. He also told school directors he believed the numbers in the Dec. 1 decision “were pretty favorable for the district.”

Photo by The Post