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No tax increase expected in Pittsburgh's 2018 budget proposal

Bob Bauder
| Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, 5:51 p.m.
The Pittsburgh skyline is mirrored in an unusually calm Monongahela River on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
The Pittsburgh skyline is mirrored in an unusually calm Monongahela River on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016.

Pittsburgh will meet a state-mandated deadline Friday to submit its annual operating budget and capital spending proposal to the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, the city's state financial overseer, according to the Mayor's Office.

Taxes — including the realty transfer tax, which Pittsburgh City Council had considered increasing to fund affordable housing — will likely remain at current levels in 2018, said Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak of Carrick, who chairs the Finance Committee.

“I think if there would be (a tax increase) there would have been conversations between the mayor's administration and myself as finance director, and there has been no conversations with me about that.” Rudiak said.

She added that council members have balked at increasing the realty transfer tax rate to 5 percent of a property's sale price, up from 4 percent.

Earlier this year, Councilmen Ricky Burgess of North Point Breeze and R. Daniel Lavelle of the Hill District sponsored legislation that would have increased the tax by 1 percentage point. Pittsburgh-area Realtors opposed the increase, saying it would stymie real estate investment and push potential home buyers to suburbs where the tax rate is lower.

The anticipated $10 million in revenue was earmarked to create new housing and rehabilitate older homes for those living below the poverty line.

“At this point I don't think it has the votes to pass,” said Rudiak, who opposes the increase.

Tim McNulty, spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto, said the city will not release budget details until Friday.

Pittsburgh, as a state-classified financially distressed city, must submit annual budgets to the ICA, one of two state oversight groups established to help stablize city finances.

Friday is the budget deadline. The ICA's board of directors has 30 days to review and vote on the spending plans, which then go to council for approval before year's end.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, bbauder@tribweb.com or @bobbauder.

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