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Allegheny County passes 2013 budget, offsetting increase in property values

| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 7:52 p.m.

Allegheny County Council on Tuesday passed a $799.4 million budget for 2013 that lowers the tax rate to 4.73 mills, offsetting the rise in property values because of the court-ordered reassessment.

The budget, which passed 13-1, closely mirrors the one that Executive Rich Fitzgerald presented to council last month. Fitzgerald said in a prepared statement that he is glad the budget passed and “that we are able to move into 2013 with no tax increase and a lower millage rate and that we did so without using one-time revenues to balance our budget.”

The budget includes a $447,000 cut to Controller Chelsa Wagner's office — the only row office that lost funding. Council restored $200,000 in funding to the controller from Fitzgerald's proposed $647,000 cut but defeated a proposal from Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh, R-Mt. Lebanon, to restore more funding. Heidelbaugh voted against the budget.

Wagner and Fitzgerald have clashed on several issues. She said the cuts will force layoffs in her office, while Fitzgerald said his cuts do not affect personnel.

“It's about me not being a good little girl. This is the oldest style of politics there is,” Wagner said.

The 17 percent millage decrease means that a person whose home is assessed at $100,000 would pay $473 under the lower millage rate, instead of $569. Under state law, taxing bodies cannot reap more than 5 percent more in revenue as a result of reassessments and must adjust tax rates accordingly.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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