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New Smithfield housing project wants property tax reassessment

By David Pierce
Pocono Record Writer

The new Skyline Heights affordable rental project is assessed unfairly high for property taxes, the private, nonprofit arm of the Monroe County Housing Authority charges in a lawsuit against the county.

Skyline Heights LP asks Monroe County Court to lower the $2.58 million market value assigned to the 42-unit complex on Route 209 in Smithfield Township.

The assessment for tax purposes — one-quarter of full value in Monroe County — is $644,920.

Based on that assessment, Skyline Heights last paid $112,557 in East Stroudsburg school taxes, $11,125 in county taxes and $2,579 in township taxes.

Skyline Heights, which opened about a year ago, filed suit after losing an appeal before the Monroe County Assessment Board. Attorney Bill Kerr Jr. says the current assessment simply isn't fair.

"Its value is much higher than most other complexes in the county I'm aware of," Kerr said.

Kerr said that conclusion is based on comparisons to other affordable housing complexes in Monroe County. He contends the assessment office improperly compared Skyline Heights to other properties that aren't similar, failing to account for Skyline's restrictions as affordable housing.

The Monroe County commissioners agreed last week to hire Real Estate Appraisal & Marketing Associates to appraise the property. The $5,000 appraisal cost will be shared by other taxing entities.

County assessment attorney Mark Love called the current assessment fair and said Skyline Heights' parent company routinely challenges assessments in Monroe County and elsewhere.

"We're used to that sort of thing," Love said.