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Proposal calls for increase of Indiana Twp. tax rate

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By Sharon Drake
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 1:48 p.m.

Indiana Township officials are proposing an increase in the property-tax rate for 2014 in a roller-coaster situation caused by the county's real estate reassessment last year.

The proposed tax rates are 2.47 mills for the general fund and 0.48 of a mill for emergency fire fund. The 2013 rates were 2.3 mills for the general fund and 0.41 of a mill for the emergency fire fund.

The supervisors voted at their November meeting to advertise the new rates as part of the 2014 budget. They are scheduled to vote Dec. 11 on the budget.

The increase would mean an additional $24 in taxes for each $100,000 of assessed value.

Township residents pay about $408 in real estate taxes on the median-value property of $138,500, according to township manager Daniel Anderson.

Even with the proposed hike, the tax rate would be below what taxpayers paid in 2012.

The 2014 budget is balanced with $4.7 million in revenues and expenses. That budget is less than 1 percent more than 2013's. The increased tax rate is needed because the township lost $12 million worth of assessed property value and most likely will not collect the 2013 revenues budgeted.

Property revenues decreased when Concordia of Fox Chapel on Route 910 was taken off the tax roll. According to its website, Concordia is a “stand-alone memory-care facility” that is part of Concordia Lutheran Ministries.

In addition, some individual property owners appealed their reassessments and won after the tax rate was set last December.

Anderson is not sure how much belt-tightening will be necessary for the township. Usually, Indiana Township takes out a tax-anticipation loan to get through the first half of the year.

“I don't think anybody could anticipate this. We'll revise and reduce (expenditures), trying to do it as painlessly as possible,” Anderson said.

The main area of expansion in the 2014 budget is for capital improvements. The public works area on Route 910 is scheduled for renovation, and work will continue on a community center in the Town Hall.

Cove Run Road will be relocated to eliminate the steep section, which was closed during bad weather. An allocation of $200,000 for paving is up 10 percent.

Administration expenditures are up $2,000 from $392,650 to $394,650.

“The administration (costs) are pretty stable,” Anderson said.

Police and public safety are budgeted for $37,000 increase from $1,302,000 to $1,339,000.

“We're trying to maintain the level of service with only a slight increases,” Anderson said.

In the work session before the budget's presentation, most of the discussion centered on the needs of the fire departments: Middle Road, Dorseyville and Rural Ridge.

“They are in strong financial position,” Anderson said of the departments.

Sharon Drake is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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