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Green Tree millage rate to be set by council in March

| Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 3:42 p.m.

Green Tree officials will wait until next month to set the borough's millage for 2013 pending the outcome of property assessment appeals.

Borough council tabled a motion on approving millage at its meeting Feb. 18.

Manager Dave Montz recommended the delay because of continued uncertainty regarding property assessment values. Commercial properties represent more than 50 percent of the borough's real estate tax revenue, and many commercial values are in dispute, Montz said.

“Most communities don't see what we're seeing,” Montz said. “In my research over the past few years and in talking with the county, we're one of the few that are that heavy in commercial versus residential.”

The borough's tax rate of 4.35 mills will go down this year. Montz said the projected rate right now is 3.65 mills, but that could drop even further.

To allow for the delay in setting millage, borough council plans to approve an ordinance at its March 4 meeting that would push back the mailing of tax bills until April 1.

Council would then vote on millage later in March, at least 10 days before tax bills go out.

Allegheny County-assessed values tripled in some cases for Green Tree commercial properties, putting millions of dollars in dispute, Montz said. Borough officials reached out to some of those properties' owners to reach settlements based on appraised values.

“Dragging it out is not good for any of us,” Montz said. “We're agreeing based on the same information that we would see them present at a hearing.”

The borough also is attempting to set up an escrow fund to refund any additional money taken in. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for March 11 in county Common Pleas Court.

Montz said the borough took similar action after the 2000 county reassessment and ended up refunding about $600,000 in the ensuing years.

“We're being fiscally responsible, in my opinion,” Montz said. “Otherwise, we're going to have to give money back that we don't have.”

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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