A panel of the Commonwealth Court affirmed a decision that an assessment board correctly increased the use value of properties enrolled under the Clean and Green program, notwithstanding that the increased use values exceeded the certified market values. Herzog v. McKean County Board of Assessment, No. 413 C.D. 2014 (Pa. Commw. Jan. 27, 2015). The court rejected the argument that the assessor did not have the power to increase the use value of the properties after they were enrolled in the program. Use values are required by the statute to be determined annually. 72 P.S. § 5490.4(a)(a.1). The taxpayer provided no authority that the use value could not exceed the certified market value. The court further held that the increased assessments did not constitute prohibited spot assessments. The increased assessments did not constitute disproportionality among the assessed values of the properties because all forest reserve properties were treated the same.
It is not clear whether the argument was raised, but it does seem that a violation of uniformity may have occurred. The Constitution permits the General Assembly to establish special tax provisions for forest reserves, among other categories of property. However, it is doubtful that the Constitutional provision was intended to result in an increased tax burden on such properties.