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Tax increase looms as Monroeville council vote nears

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:00 p.m.

Municipal taxes could increase for Monroeville property owners for the first time in 22 years.

The proposed $27.3 million budget for 2013 is about 2 percent more than this year's spending plan, resulting in a $3.1 million deficit. A property tax rate increase from 2.2 mills to 3.45 mills would help close the gap and spare cuts to locally funded services such as the Monroeville Dispatch Center and the Monroeville Senior Citizen Center.

“I don't think the road to take is a tax increase,” said Monroeville resident Georgiana Woodhall at last week's budget meeting. Woodhall also is a member of the Monroeville Planning Commission.

Residents, many of whom are on limited incomes, can't afford a tax increase, said Woodhall.

If the millage rate increase is approved, the annual municipal tax bill for a home assessed at $89,200, the median residential value in the municipality for 2012, would increase from $196 to $308.

The millage increase would generate about $2.6 million and the remaining deficit would be closed by depleting remaining funds from the general fund reserve for municipal retirees and a fund set up in 2002 to expand Monroeville Community Park, said Municipal Manager Jeff Silka.

Monroeville Councilman Bernhard Erb said Allegheny County should provide dispatch services for Monroeville residents, which would save the municipality about $600,000 annually. He noted that Plum Borough uses Allegheny County dispatch services and recently was ranked the sixth-safest city in the nation by NeighborhoodScout, a neighborhood search engine designed for homebuyers.

“Until people in Monroeville stop buying the lie that we are the best at every single thing … we're doomed to massive tax-millage increases,” Erb said.

Erb said that continued funding of services such as the dispatch center, combined with a lack of pre-funding for a post employment benefits package promised to municipal employees could result in tax increases of at least 4 mills by 2015.

Senior Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick said last week he likely will extend the deadline for all municipalities to pass their 2013 budgets and millage increases in to January, which would provide taxing bodies such as Monroeville more accurate reassessment figures. Wettick could make a formal decision Friday.

Monroeville Council is scheduled to vote on a final budget Tuesday in council chambers, 2700 Monroeville Blvd.

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