Judge grants extension on setting 2013 Allegheny County property tax rates
By Bobby Kerlik
Published: Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, 11:56 p.m.
The judge overseeing a countywide reassessment granted an extension to setting 2013 property tax rates, and several Allegheny County municipal leaders said on Monday they will wait until next year.
Senior Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick ruled that all county municipalities have until Jan. 31 to set their 2013 budgets and until 10 days before they mail tax bills to set millage rates. Some officials said they plan to pass their budgets by the usual end-of-the-year deadline but will wait to set millages before more assessment appeals are decided.
Regis Ebner, assistant town manager of McCandless, said Wettick's ruling supports the town's plan to adjust its millage rate next year.
“We still have 1,300 appeals we have not received,” Ebner said.
Taxing bodies are required to reduce millage rates to offset a rise in assessed value. The extra time will allow more property appeals to be settled and give municipalities a more accurate overall assessed value. The millage delay means that taxpayers will have to wait longer to calculate how much their tax bills will be.
“From our perspective, it makes sense. It gives us more time to ensure that we will have full compliance with the anti-windfall legislation,” Mt. Lebanon Manager Steve Feller said.
Mt. Lebanon commissioners plan to vote on Tuesday on a $29.6 million spending plan for next year, but they will delay setting a millage rate so they can see how more assessment appeals are resolved.
Wettick gave the county until Dec. 21 to provide each taxing body with the total assessed value of properties within its jurisdiction. The county will provide updates as appeals change that number, county Solicitor Andrew Szefi said.
Wilkins planned to vote on Monday on its budget and millage rate, Manager Rebecca Bradley said. Because assessed property values rose to a combined $445 million, the township proposed reducing the tax rate to 4.674 mills from 5.513 mills.
“If there is a wild swing from (the combined assessed value because of appeals), we'll revisit the budget next year and adjust the millage rates as needed,” Bradley said.
Michael Dennehy, chairman of the Pine supervisors, said the board likely will revisit the millage rate next year once more appeals are decided. “Our budget is done already,” Dennehy said.
The extension also applies to Pittsburgh Public Schools, whose budget is on a calendar year. “The school district is going to take advantage of the extra time for the millage,” Solicitor Ira Weiss said. “The assessment numbers right now are not sufficient.”
Other Allegheny County school districts operate on a fiscal-year calendar and don't set their budgets until summer.
Staff writer Tom Fontaine contributed to this report. Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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