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Property tax discount period to end Tuesday

| Thursday, April 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Allegheny County property owners have until Tuesday to pay their property taxes early to receive a 2 percent discount.

Those who don't wish to pay early still must pay their bill in full by May 31 to avoid penalties, county Treasurer John Weinstein said Wednesday.

Typically, property owners must pay by March 31 to receive the discount, but County Council adjusted the date for the second consecutive year because officials were late in adjusting the homestead exemption in the assessment.

“It's a great investment for county taxpayers. At a bank right now, you can't get 2 percent back,” said Weinstein, who said 90 percent of people pay early. “The benefit for the county is that we get the money early, and we don't have to borrow money.”

Weinstein said his office has about a 98 percent collection rate.

A slow trickle of taxpayers paid their bills Wednesday at the courthouse.

“The 2 percent is enough to make it worth my while, but I always pay my bills early,” said Marilyn VanOrmer, 66, of Ross, who saved $15.46 by paying early. “Normally I mail it, but I was coming down here anyway.”

The treasurer's office, located in Room 108 in the courthouse, will stay open until 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to accommodate those trying to meet the deadline. Other days, the office is open until 4:30 p.m. Mailed bills must be postmarked by April 30 in order to qualify for the discount. Property owners can pay online at alleghenycounty.us/treasure and click on “online property tax payment.”

Ruth Markuss, 87, of Observatory Hill, said she wanted to pay early and take advantage of the discount even though it only amounted to about $5.

“It's not a lot but every little bit counts when you're on Social Security,” Markuss said.

A home valued at $100,000 owes $473 in county taxes. A 2 percent discount would save that homeowner $9.46. A home valued at $150,000 would save $14.19 with the discount.

In December, County Council approved Executive Rich Fitzgerald's proposal to reduce property taxes from 5.69 mills to 4.73 mills because property values went up under the reassessment. Taxing bodies are required by law to reduce millage to offset the rise in property values after a reassessment.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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