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Baldwin officials put budget on display

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:58 p.m.

It still will be several weeks before Baldwin Borough officials vote to approve the town's final tax rate for 2013.

Yet, the municipality's spending plan now is ready for public viewing and officials have set a schedule to adopt the millage rate. The rate will reflect an additional 5 percent in tax revenue compared to last year — something which is permitted as part of the court-ordered property reassessment process.

Council members Tuesday approved advertising the 2013 budget, which includes a $10,867,935 general fund and $7,866,627 sewer fund. They also agreed to advertise an ordinance for the setting of a “revenue neutral” tax rate at 5.15 mills. That is down from the 6.61-mill tax rate last year.

Municipalities must change the property tax rate to become “revenue neutral” based on the final certified reassessed values of properties, meaning they will not get any surplus funding from the property reassessments.

Assessed property values in Baldwin increased from $763,313,223 in 2012 to $939,415,695 in 2013, borough Manager John Barrett said. That triggered the adjustment in the real estate tax rate.

Municipalities can, however, take a 5-percent “windfall,” something Baldwin officials plan to do — which would adjust the tax rate for 2013 a second time to 5.41 mills.

Borough officials must wait to take that action, though, solicitor Stanley Lederman said.

“We do it that way because the law specifically states that you have to do it in two, separate, distinct votes,” Lederman said.

Baldwin Council will hold a special meeting Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. to vote on the 2013 budget and “revenue neutral” millage rate, because of a the budget is required to be on display for at least 10-days, officials said.

At the Jan. 22 meeting, council also then will vote to amend the ordinance to include the 5-percent “windfall.” A separate vote will be needed in February for final approval of the new rate, Lederman said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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