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Wilkins plans slight decrease in millage rate

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:54 p.m.

Wilkins property owners could see a lower millage rate next year, but the decrease would only help offset Allegheny County reassessments that boosted township property values by 30 percent in March, a township official said.

On Monday, township commissioners approved the first reading of the proposed, $5.1 million budget for 2013. It includes a decrease in the property tax rate from 5.513 to 4.674 mills. Commissioners will take a final vote on the document, which totals 4.6 percent more than this year's budget, on Dec. 10.

Municipalities countywide are trying to forecast the effects that the court-mandated reassessments will have on their 2013 budgets, especially since the county Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review has not completed its review of all formal appeals of reassessments.

The deadline for the county to provide finalized, revised assessment rolls to municipalities is Dec. 17. The county expects that most of appeals will have been decided by then, said David J. Montgomery, solicitor for the appeals board.

The state deadline for municipalities to approve their 2013 budgets is Dec. 31.

An anti-windfall law prohibits municipalities from reaping more than a 5-percent increase in revenue the year after a reassessment, so municipalities are making contingency plans.

Wilkins will place excess funds into an escrow accounts to avoid violating the anti-windfall law, said Wilkins Manager Rebecca Bradley.

“Then in 2014, we'll reduce our millage” or grant refunds to taxpayers if the revenue increase is more than 5 percent, she said.

In Wilkins, total property values increased to $445 million after reassessments. Property owners appealed about $14 million in values and $1.5 million in reductions have been granted, Bradley said.

“We don't expect that's all that's going to come through,” she said.

The township is assuming that the overall assessed value will drop by 10 percent after the appeals, which is what happened after the last countywide reassessment in 2002, she said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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