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Pittsburgh homeowners would see taxes decrease under new plan

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 11:45 a.m.
 

About 14,000 Pittsburgh homeowners would be affected by a cut in their property tax bills starting in 2015 under legislation proposed to City Council on Tuesday.

Councilman Ricky Burgess of North Point Breeze introduced a measure that would use $7.5 million of about $20 million that Pittsburgh receives each year from the Allegheny County Regional Asset District sales tax to offset the property tax cut. The allocation is separate from a portion of the RAD money that funds libraries, parks and stadiums.

Burgess said the city has been using the $7.5 million to pay off $60 million in bonds the Urban Redevelopment Authority borrowed for economic development projects.

“I believe homeowners in Pittsburgh are overtaxed,” Burgess said. “I am of the belief that all of it should be used for property tax relief.”

However, the URA's acting executive director, Robert Rubinstein, said he would argue that the city borrow more money by issuing bonds. He said URA uses the $60 million Pittsburgh Development Fund to provide loans for projects such as the SouthSide Works, Pittsburgh Technology Center and Crawford Square homes in the Hill District.

The authority could spur development deeper into city neighborhoods with additional funds, he said.

Burgess would use part of the $7.5 million to roll back taxes to 2012 levels for city residents whose tax bills increased this year because of the Allegheny County reassessment. Eligible residents would include those who have owned and lived in their homes for at least 10 years. Those who have owned and lived in their homes for at least five years and received government assistance to purchase them also would be eligible.

An estimated 14,269 residents would be affected by an average $215 decrease in city real estate taxes in the first year, Burgess said. He estimates the total cost in 2015 at $3.1 million.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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