Few Allegheny County residents will ever see the splendid home constructed 15 years ago at 710 Bending Oak Lane (in part because it is secluded among seven and one-half wooded acres along a dead-end road in Fox Chapel).
The Post-Gazette recently gave the less-fortunate public a glimpse -- glowing article, photographs and flattering video -- of the rarified life to be experienced at this extraordinary property.
Five bedrooms, 8,000 square feet. Meticulously landscaped grounds. Two stocked koi ponds. Floating fireplace. Non-fenestrated front facade (Gretchen McKay's words). A groundskeeper's cottage and in-laws' quarters. A tea house (whatever it is, it has two bedrooms and two bathrooms).
The Post-Gazette reports an asking price of $3.8 million for this property. (The video identifies the price as $4 million, but in this neighborhood, a couple of hundred thousand dollars is not so much a mistake as a rounding error.)
The Allegheny County assessment directory indicates, however, that this property's owner pays taxes on $1.41 million in property value -- a discount approximating 70 percent. Translation in dollars: An undercharge approximating $10,000 on county taxes each year -- and a corresponding discount on municipal and school taxes that likely approximates $40,000. Annually.
When Dan Onorato (or one of his shills) boasts about his stewardship of property taxes in Allegheny County, this is the unconstitutionally unfair, regressive system he implemented and defends -- overcharging a hundred residents of $40,000 properties for years so that one property owner can receive a windfall of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Even if the seller must take a million dollars less than the asking price for his magnificent Fox Chapel estate, the property tax discount -- for many years -- has been at least 50 percent. Still, hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax obligations transferred to less-affluent property owners.
One hopes the owner was courteous enough to thank Mr. Onorato, perhaps with a check for his campaign.
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