People Above Politics

Litz brings Local Government, Small Business, and Conservation Experience to the Table.

   Jo Ellen is a 5-term Lebanon County Commissioner who is the Boots on the Ground for local government implementing programs to Protect Children, Serve Families, Secure Justice, Manage Emergencies, and Safeguard Elections.  In short, Commissioner Litz Safeguards the Public Trust.

Whether it was the 2004 Campbelltown Tornado, Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, Jonas 30" Snowstorm 2016 , or the Summer Storm of 2018,

I've been here for you.

Litz was elected by her peers from across the state of Pennsylvania to serve as the 2012 president and 2013 chairman of the Board for the statewide commissioner's association. 

Litz is about starting a conversation from public structures like roads and bridges, water and sewer, schools, and energy.  A sound infrastructure is the basis of a sound economy.  Litz believes we need these Economy Boosting Jobs to put money into the pockets of people so that they can buy homes, cars, and goods.  Litz supports a transportation plan to make our roads and bridges safe.  In this way, we will create good paying jobs, get people to these jobs, our goods to market, and children to schools. 

Jo Ellen served as the chair of the MPO (2012-15)--Metropolitan Planning Organization for Lebanon County--where she helps to prioritize local road and bridge projects with PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration. 

Keep Litz doing the People's Business.


As We Ignite our Generation 2015 - Duration- 3 minutes, 59 seconds


County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz speaks to voters- Duration- 78 seconds


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Litz Co Commercial Rentals, 1.386 acre Property Available with established Rt 422 access & curb cuts.  Out of the flood plain.  Shovel ready with public water, sewer, electricity, gas & cable.  Zoned C2 General Commercial in N Lebanon Twp.  Another fast growing municipality, N Cornwall Twp is across Route 422.  Drone tour of subject site:


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People Above Politics

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Honorary Chair:     Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll --a woman who broke the glass ceiling and contributed greatly to PA politics; born in 1930, died November 12, 2008.

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The ABC's of Property Taxes

by Jo Ellen Litz

Dan Seaman and his staff are ready to assist you in the Assessment office.

In 2013, Lebanon County underwent a court-ordered reassessment.  For up to date information, please visit the County web page.

An assessment is based on 100% of the 1968 Market Value of your property.  With the code that comes with your county real estate tax, you can view your assessment records on line.

Using your assessment, you can figure what your house might sell for on the real estate market.  The technical term is Common Level Ratio. 

Neighborhood Reviews are continually done throughout the County.  Currently, no one is penalized with back taxes for unobtained building permits, but if you or a previous owner added items like an enclosed porch or central air conditioning, your assessment will be brought into line with your neighbors.  An improvement value must total $250 or more before a change is registered.  Also, any square footage errors are corrected.   Demolition of a building is always removed after the assessment office is notified.

For your information, an Interim Tax Billing is done in September for new houses, additions and improvements.  

To figure property taxes, let's use a home in the City of Lebanon assessed at $20,000 as an example.

1st Bill March    County & Municipality Tax - Please remember that the Earned Income Tax (1 or 1.7%) that is taken off of your pay check is not tax that goes to the County of Lebanon.  Rather, that tax goes to the school districts.

Judge: It's time to reassess properties

Staff Writer
Lebanon Daily News

Properties in the county will be reassessed under an order issued yesterday by Lebanon County President Judge Robert J. Eby.

The reassessment, the result of a 2006 assessment appeal filed by Hugh P. and Rebecca J. Rooney of 1460 Todd Court, Annville, must be completed by the end of 2012, Eby ordered.

In their appeal, the Rooneys said the county’s failure to conduct a countywide assessment for 36 years “has caused a discriminatory effect of taxation” that harmed them and others. The last reassessment was done in 1970.

Hugh Rooney said yesterday he was relieved by the ruling.

“You have to ask for fairness,” he said.

The reassessment will affect 53,000 parcels in the county, county administrator Jamie Wolgemuth said.

Bill Carpenter, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, said he expects a third of the new assessments will be higher, a third will be lower and a third will be the same.

Rooney said he does not expect his taxes to go down as a result of the ruling.

“The system was broken for a long time and needed to be fixed,” the Rooneys’ attorney, John Ferry, said. “Overall, the system is good, but the system needs to be maintained.”

Regular maintenance means regular reassessment, Ferry explained.

Ferry said Hugh Rooney began to question the county’s method of determining real-estate assessments after a 25-by-25 foot addition was built onto his home in 2003.

On April 26, 2006, the Rooneys filed an appeal with the Lebanon County Board of Assessment Appeals of the assessed value of their property. On Sept. 8 that year, a decision order was sent to the Rooneys indicating the assessed value of their property was being lowered to $41,500, effective for the 2007 tax year. It had been previously set at $44,900.

The Rooneys filed a notice of appeal on Sept. 8, 2006. In that notice, the Rooneys did not dispute the fair market of their property but claimed the method of calculating the assessed value of the property violates the uniformity of taxation clause in the state Constitution.

In his ruling, Eby agreed.

“The court determines as a matter of law that there is a lack of uniformity in the current real estate assessment for properties located with the County of Lebanon,” Eby stated in his order.

Eby’s order cannot be appealed.

Carpenter said he was not surprised by the Eby’s ruling but expressed concern about the timing of the court order.

 “It’s something that has to be done,” Carpenter said. “Right now is the worst time to do this because of the economic conditions.”

Carpenter said an early estimate of the cost of a countywide reassessment would be $2 million to $3 million. He said the county would pay for it with a bond issue, probably in early 2010. A professional firm will be hired in late 2009 to do the reassessment, he said.

“It’s an expensive proposition, but we’re going to follow the court order,” Carpenter said.

A reassessment pricetag of $2 million would equal 1.8 mills in property taxes,  Wolgemuth said.

The new assessments would affect property owners in the 2013 tax year, Carpenter said.


Judge orders reassessment by 2012

Saturday, December 13, 2008
Of Our Lebanon County Bureau

LEBANON - Lebanon County is to reassess the value of all its properties within the next four years.

A countywide reassessment was ordered by Lebanon County Judge Robert Eby by the end of 2012, as a result of a lawsuit filed by an Annville couple claiming that county assessments lack uniformity.

A reassessment is the process by which counties determine the property values that will be used to set county, school and municipal property tax rates. A property's assessment is supposed to reflect its market value.

A reassessment doesn't necessarily mean that property taxes will increase, but assessments generally rise in a reassessment.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed, means the county will have to spend $2 million to $3 million to reassess all properties in the county, said Bill Carpenter, chairman of the county commissioners.

"I understand the judge's ruling and I think it's a fair ruling," Carpenter said.

But he added that these are "tough economic times."

The average home assessment in Lebanon County is $20,000. The owner of a $20,000 home will pay $400 in county property taxes in 2009, an increase of $90 over this year.

Hugh and Rebecca Rooney of the 1400 block of Todd Court, Annville, appealed their 2006 property assessment to the county board of assessment appeals because they said the home was assessed too high.

While the board reduced the $44,900 assessment to $41,500, Hugh Rooney felt it should have dropped to $25,000, based on assessment of similarly valued homes.

Rooney appealed the ruling to county court, because a countywide reassessment was needed to rectify what he felt was a lack of uniformity in assessments.

If anyone is upset because their assessment is raised and their taxes go up, they shouldn't be, Rooney said.

"Those who see their taxes go up should be glad for the time they had other people subsidizing their taxes, and my property just happens to be one of those," Rooney said.

The county assesses at 14.7 percent of fair market value. The current assessment system results in newer properties and those getting additions having higher assessments than older properties of similar market value, said John Ferry, the Rooneys' attorney.

Rooney, who is a real estate agent and ex-Annville Twp. commissioner, said he noticed a "huge disparity" in the assessments of older properties being sold compared to his property.

The Rooneys hired a Lebanon Valley College math professor to analyze the assessment and sale prices of 1,235 properties in 2006, Ferry said.

Carpenter said the county probably will reap the least benefit from the reassessment, because it has to pay for it, and has lower tax rates than school districts and municipalities.

The court did not order that Rooney's attorney's fees be paid by the county.

BARBARA MILLER: 832-2090 or

In March 2004, the County Commissioners voted to mail out notices that they intend to cut the 25 mills, which is at the State ceiling for a fifth class county, in half.  Thus the same house valued at 50% of its value will be at 100% of its 1968 value, and the 12.5 mills will still equate to a tax bill of $250.00 (.001*$20,000*12.5).  In 2005, millage is 15.5 mills.

lWhy 100% predetermined ratio, not reassessment?


Privacy in 50,000 homes.


Cost - about $15,000 rather than $2.5 million


Time - Takes effect January 1, 2005 rather than over a three year period.


Schools seldom pay for a reassessment, but benefit most.


Sales tax to support schools may be coming from the State level.


Comparable values of homes in a neighborhood hold true in assessment hearings


Easier comparison from county to county.


Take care of service providers --nurses, haz mat responders, prison guards...


Revenue neutral in 2004 - no change in 2004 taxes.


Ceiling in 2005 = 5% on county, and 10% on schools.


2004 County Mill = $1 million


Common level ratio helps to figure your fair market value.  Divide the assessment by .168 or multiply by 5.95.


An assessment is an arbitrary number, not an exact science.  Two different appraisers will usually come up with two different figures.  A conservative appraisal might be given to a bank to know how much money to lend you while you may hire an appraiser to help figure out at what price to list and sell your home.  This appraisal will no doubt come in higher.


Market & economy fluctuates.  Value in 6 months may be higher or lower.  The law allows a 15% fluctuation window.


Even after a reassessment, there is no guarantee to fall within the 15% window.


Neighborhood walk-throughs pick up closed in porches and central air conditioning (where someone along the line forgot to get a building permit).  This helps to ensure tax fairness between old and new construction.  It's a myth that older home owners don't pay their fair share of taxes.  There are usually obsolete or less than energy efficient rooms in older homes.  Therefore, in my opinion, the value reflects depreciation for age and use.


bulletCity millage           20.67      (.001*$20,000*10.335)         =  $206.70

2nd Bill August   School Tax

bulletSchool millage      143         (.001*20,000*71.5)         =    $1430.00

Total Yearly Property Taxes                                          $1704.70

**A mill is equal to 1/10 cent (1/1000 of a dollar).  Every year, local government officials and school boards review their budget.  A vote is taken to retain, reduce or increase the millage which ultimately retains, reduces or raises your taxes.

Assessment appeals are not to appeal your taxes, but to appeal the assessed value of your home or business.  If you feel your assessment is too high, appeals can be filed by September 1 of each year in the Assessment Office at the Municipal Building.   Successful appeals before the County Commissioners compare lot size, age, square footage of buildings and quality of construction with other buildings and properties in the neighborhood.  We try to make taxpayers feel at ease.  You can represent yourself by researching and making a list using the books and computer in the assessment office at the Municipal Building or by hiring an appraiser to value your home based on comparable sales in the neighborhood.  However, if you are unable to attend in person, since this is a hearing that can be appealed to the Court of Common Pleas, only an attorney can legally represent you.  Also, IF you choose to get a professional appraisal, so our staff can review the figures and references, be sure to submit the appraisal at least ten days before your hearing.

PS:  The Earned Income Tax Bureau does not fall under the supervision of the county commissioners.  Rather, the Lebanon EIT Bureau board of directors is comprised of two school board members from each of Lebanon County's School Districts:  Annville Cleona, Cornwall Lebanon, Easter Lebanon, Lebanon, Palmyra, and Northern Lebanon.  Likewise, tax collected by the Lebanon EIT Bureau supports public schools, not the County of Lebanon.

 Lebanon County is 363 square miles consisting of 42,688 households with an average   income of $29,261.  64,800 citizens comprise Lebanon County's work force.  The current  estimated population is 117,434. 

Larger taxpayers by assessed property value:

Taxpayer Type of Business 1999 Assessed Value
MTM Development Corp (SID Tool) Warehouse Distribution $2,361,600
Rosenfeld, Samuel etal Lebanon Plaza Shopping Center $1,900,750
Lebanon Valley Mall Shopping Center $1,600,200
Cornwall Manor of the United Church Home Retirement Village $1,300,900
Lebanon Valley Brethren Home Retirement Village $1,241,950
ALCOA Lebanon Works Aluminum Manufacturer $1,171,900
Grace Community Retirement Village $1,119,250
AMP Inc. Electronic Manufacturer $1,100,150
Boscov's Associates Shopping Center $1,016,200
Wal-Mart Stores 2023 Retail Store $971,950
Walter H Weaber Sons, Inc Lumber Manufacturer $874,950
TOTAL   $14,659,800