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Flexible Crafton tax rate drops — for now

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 10:35 p.m.

The millage rate in Crafton is going down in 2013, but tax collections are on their way up.

With a 6-0 vote, borough council approved a millage rate of 7.09 mills at its meeting Jan. 9. Council members Joseph Hayes, Mary Stacy and Timothy Stewart were absent.

The new millage represents a decrease from 2012's rate of 8.75 mills — but that doesn't necessarily mean property owners' taxes are going down.

Because of higher property values through the 2012 Allegheny County reassessment, the new millage rate means the borough will collect up to 5 percent more in real estate taxes this year than last year. State law allows municipalities to do so the year after a reassessment.

The exact amount of additional money Crafton will collect is unclear because of ongoing reassessment appeals. Close to $10 million in property value is being appealed by Crafton property owners.

“We don't know what the appeals are going to be,” Councilman Doug Johnston said.

The new millage rate followed a lengthy discussion on several proposals.

The adopted rate, which was Johnston's proposal, assumes Crafton property owners will lose all remaining assessment appeals. That ensures Crafton will collect a maximum of 105 percent of its real estate revenue from 2012.

“I'm not worried about (the extra) 5 percent,” council Vice President Susan O'Connell said. “I'm worried about getting more than 5 percent.”

Because the borough is unlikely to win all remaining appeals, it will likely collect between 0 and 5 percent more in real estate taxes this year. Council also set up an escrow fund for possible refunds.

Borough council approved a $6.3 million budget at its Dec. 11 meeting.

Road plans

The borough is making plans for road improvements in 2013.

Council approved manager Bob Callen to ask Gateway Engineers for a plan and estimated cost on road improvements.

“Before we know it, spring will be here and all of the contractors will have already been bidding on their contracts for summer,” Callen said.

The recommendations for 2013 include work on Noble Avenue and Woodlawn Street. Work on those roads was originally planned for 2014, but council decided they should take higher priority.

“We're just moving up these roads that are more traveled, more used,” O'Connell said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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