Successful county reassessment appeals mean less for Whitehall
An adjustment was needed to Whitehall's property tax rate for 2014 to keep the borough's revenue stream consistent with past years, after hundreds of successful appeals from a county-wide reassessment left the borough bringing in less money, the majority of council members agreed.
Council members, in a 6-1 vote at the Feb. 5 meeting, agreed to set the real estate tax rate for 2014 at 4.65 mills, an increase from the 4.32 mills in 2013. How this adjustment will affect the residents will be seen on an individual basis — based on if a homeowner's successfully appealed his reassessed property value last year, council Vice President Robert McKown said.
“This is not a tax increase,” McKown said.
Borough council members adopted the town's $15.1 million spending plan for this year in December, but held off finalizing the 2014 millage rate until final property assessment figures were received. Whitehall leaders in 2012 were conservative when estimating the tax rate for 2013, they said.
A court-ordered reassessment prompted the borough to reduce its tax rate from 5.5 mills in 2012 to 4.32 mills in 2013.
Municipalities in Allegheny County were required to change property tax rates to become “revenue neutral,” based on reassessed values.
Whitehall's total assessed property value for 2013 was about $820 million, McKown said. Municipalities were allowed to take a 5 percent “windfall” in 2013, but Whitehall officials opted against this.
After appeals, assessed property values in the borough dropped to $705,378,150 — a decrease of about $114 million.
That led Whitehall to bring in about $98,000 less in real estate tax revenues in 2013, McKown said.
Council members, then, agreed last week to adjust the borough's tax rate to again bring in $3.2 million in revenues from real estate taxes, McKown said.
Councilman Ryan Barton, the lone dissenter on the millage change, said he doesn't agree with the move, especially in a town that has a healthy reserve fund.
“My feeling here is we have over funded our fund balance,” Barton said. “I think that the borough should have a healthy fund balance — which we do.”
Barton said he doesn't want to see the borough holding on to the residents' money in a reserve account.
Barton, who was sworn in as a newly elected councilman in January, said he suggested that if council wanted to raise taxes to wait until after the next budget session at the end of the year and look at ways to more efficiently spend the borough's money.
The borough's fund balance was $4.8 million at the start of 2013, McKown said.
Borough officials had budgeted to use $864,000 from that in 2013, but likely will end up only taking $156,000 from the reserve, McKown said. That is because the borough received extra funds through property sales and projects planned for last year that were delayed.
McKown said it's important to put aside money for known projects and purchases that are upcoming in the next several years so that the borough will not have to borrow funds, which, ultimately, would come at a larger cost to the town.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Landlord opens door in Brentwood to help those who served
- Streets Run used as detour
- Pleasant Hills Middle school celebrates 50 years with nod to past
- West Jefferson Hills school district to discuss grading policy
- Baldwin police officers lauded for work
- Brentwood school district issues measles letter in response to social media stir
- Coach in Baldwin-Whitehall does not get middle school football job