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Leetsdale council votes to lower tax rate

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

In an effort to avoid an excessive windfall of revenue, Leetsdale Council members lowered the borough's property tax rate to 7.5 mills, down from the 8.5 mills set last month.

Council members approved the new millage last week.

Concern over the possibility of a revenue increase beyond a county-ordered 5-percent limit led to the change.

It would have been a “big windfall, and, obviously, we can't have that,” council President Joe McGurk said.

With the new millage set, Leetsdale could collect about $1.1 million in taxes, according to a borough report.

It should be the last time Leetsdale Council members consider changing the millage this year, McGurk said.

Under an order by Allegheny County Judge R. Stanton Wettick, municipal officials have a few options when deciding on the amount of a millage, including changing the mill rate up until 10 days prior to property tax bills being mailed to property owners.

Leetsdale Council also approved increasing the discount on property tax bills for senior citizens under the county's Act 77 to 35 percent by a 4-3 vote, which involved Mayor Pete Poninsky making the tie-breaking decision. Council members Melanie Dunn, Joe McGurk and Linda Michael voted “no.” Roger Nanni, Osman Awad and Jeff Weatherby voted “yes.” Wes James was absent.

McGurk said he voted against the proposal because he and other council members were given information about an hour before the Feb. 14 council meeting.

Act 77 gives municipal officials the option of making residents who are at least 60 years old, have an annual income of $30,000 or less and have lived in their home for at least 10 years eligible for a local-property-tax reduction.

A vote to increase the borough's homestead exemption from $30,000 to $36,500 was rejected, 2-4. Nanni and Awad voted in favor of the increase.

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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