Whitehall Council expected to vote on budget Wednesday

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Adjustments will be made to Whitehall Borough's 2013 millage in an attempt to offset an increase in total assessed property values for the town that occurred due to court-mandated countywide reassessments.

Whitehall Borough Manager James Leventry this week said he spoke with county officials and received the municipality's total value for property assessments, which now will enable the community to set its 2013 millage.

Whitehall's total assessed property value for 2013 is $809,901,000. That is up from the roughly $600 million in 2012, Leventry said.

Municipalities in Allegheny County must change their 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 court-ordered reassessments. However, towns can take a 5-percent “windfall,” something Whitehall officials have said they do not plan to do.

Whitehall's “revenue neutral” millage will be 4.073, Leventry said. The municpiality's 2012 real estate tax rate was 5.5 mills.

Municipalities in Allegheny County have until Jan. 31 to pass their final budgets and set their millage rates, thanks to an extention granted by Senior Common Pleas Court Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr.

Whitehall Council members will vote on the municipality's 2013 budget and new property tax rate at their meeting Wednesday, Leventry said.

Council members and borough officials at their meeting last week raised concerns about the passage of the final budget, because at the time they had not received final certified numbers from the county, they said.

Leventry told council members that Whitehall officials had received a CD that individually listed the reasessment values for each property in Whitehall, totalling more than 6,200 parcells. It also included properties that were tax exempt and had no totals, he said.

“They just said, ‘here you go. Here's your evaluation,'” he said.

An email received by the borough about three weeks before that showed that the town had about 320 appeals still pending, he said.

Holiday awards

Stars and nativity scenes were popular decorations in Whitehall this holiday season, Councilwoman Kathy DePuy told her colleagues last week, as she handed out the awards to residents in attendance for the borough's 2012 house decorating contest.

“This is the fun time of the year,” DePuy said.

Fifteen residents each were asked to drive throughout a portion of the borough this holiday season and nominate their favorite decorations and displays for the contest, DePuy said. Then, a committee, made up of borough officials and one of DePuy's 12-year-old relatives, visited each of the nominated homes — totalling three pages this year — to decide the winners.

This year's winners were:

Best Overall Display: Doreen Valentine, 4850 Old Boston Road; Best Colored Lights: James and Kathleen Peelor, 5045 Azalea Drive; Most Fun Display: Susan Gonano, 50 Windvale Drive; Best Nativity: Donald and Jeannie Kemmler, 5345 Orchard Hill Drive; Best Star: Richard and Mary Debski, 1019 Varner Road; and honorable mentions: Tracey Ruscitto, 221 Maxwell Drive and Kenneth and Kristin Figura, 125 Audbert Drive.

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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