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Fox Chapel tax rate to increase

| Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Fox Chapel residents will pay more in real estate tax next year.

Council approved an $8.8 million budget that sees the property tax rate rise by .14 mills, from 2.16 to 2.3.

The owner of a home assessed at $400,000 will pay $920 in property tax, up from $856.

Finance Director Joy Hardt attributes the increase to several factors, despite a nearly 11 percent increase in revenues over this year.

She cited reassessment appeals, saying many borough property owners took their cases to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court resulting in a reduction of $10 million in assessed property value.

In addition, earned income revenue has not been rising in Fox Chapel, she said.

“It likely will fall short of budget by $117,000 this year,” she said.

Expenses also factor into the tax rate increase, Hardt said.

Council approved more than $700,000 in purchases to upgrade equipment at the volunteer fire department. About $590,000 will pay for a new engine and $123,000 for 17 self-contained breathing apparatus units. Department heads plan to seek a federal grant to help offset the costs, Hardt said.

Council also approved $52,900 to pay for two new patrol cars for the borough's police department.

In all, costs are up 18 percent more than this year, Hardt said.

She said even an increase in sewage fees won't be enough to cover those costs. Residents will pay nearly double, at $4.66 per 1,000 gallons up from $2.35. Increases are necessary to pay for operations and system repairs required by the state Department of Environmental Protection, Hardt said.

Borough officials have been creative in finding ways to save money, she said.

The borough for several years has bid its road paving projects with O'Hara to capitalize on bulk costs. This year, Sharpsburg joined the contract.

“It enabled us to get an excellent joint bid price,” she said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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