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Average Monroeville property tax hike would be $100

| Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, 8:59 p.m.

Now that Allegheny County has updated its reassessment figures, the impact of proposed tax hike in Monroeville can be broken down into one number: $100.

That's about how much more a Monroeville home with an average assessment would be taxed in 2013 to make up a budget shortfall.

Of course, because of shifting home values during a reassessment year, it's not exactly that simple. A home that might have been considered to have an average assessment in 2012 might have seen its assessment rise or fall for 2013.

But if there exists a Monroeville homeowner who saw his 2012 assessment of $89,200 assessment increase to about $105,000 over the last year, the proposed budget will cost an extra $100.

Monroeville's proposed 2013 budget — which has to be approved by Jan. 31 — shows a $2.6 million deficit even if officials choose to deplete the remaining funds from the general fund reserve for municipal retirees and a fund set up in 2002 to expand Monroeville Community Park.

According to December reassessment data from the county, the overall value of property in Monroeville increased by 26 percent, from $2.4 billion to $3.04 billion.

The increase in value, however, isn't going to solve the municipal deficit. State law prevents municipalities from reaping a windfall in tax revenue from reassessments. So local officials are required to adjust the tax rate so that no more than a 5-percent increase is collected after a reassessment year.

The 2012 tax rate was 2.2 mills. The 2012 tax rate translates to a 2013 rate of 1.88 mills, which includes the extra 5-percent revenue that the law permits.

To close the deficit, municipal manager Jeff Silka has proposed a 0.95-of-a-mill tax hike, which would bump the 2013 tax rate to 2.83 mills.

The Allegheny County website lists the 2012 median home assessment in Monroeville at $89,200. That assessed value carried a local tax of $196.

Monroeville tax collector Pat Fulkerson estimates that the median assessed residential value in Monroeville this year will be about $105,000. Under the proposed 2.83-mill tax rate, that property would have a municipal tax liability of $297 in 2013.

Senior citizens receive a discount on property taxes.

However, a tax hike isn't a certainty. Not only would Monroeville Council have to approve a hike, so would a judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. After a reassessment year, court approval is required to raise taxes by more than the 5-percent margin allowed by the law.

If council chooses not to raises taxes — or if a judge rejects an increase — council could vote to cut certain municipal services, which could be offered through county programs.

Councilman Bernhard Erb proposed a savings plan last month that would include transferring the local emergency dispatch services to the county and outsourcing the collection of the local services tax and delinquent earned income tax. He said his plan would save the municipality nearly $600,000 in 2013.

Councilman Steve Duncan said last week that members of council have discussed their options in recent weeks.

“We're still looking in to that right now,” Duncan said. “We're discussing all avenues, as far as what we're going to do here.”

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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