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Councilman: Allegheny County budget will start fight

| Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, 12:23 a.m.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald's 2014 budget presentation will trigger a fight over taxes, one county councilman predicts.

“Once Mr. Fitzgerald releases his budget, all hell is going to break loose,” said Councilman Bill Robinson, D-Hill District, chairman of the budget and finance committee. “I believe that we need $50 million of new revenues to address the county's fiscal challenges in 2014 and put us in a real serious conversation of how we get beyond 2014.”

Robinson said he has yet to hear a “bright idea” of how to raise the additional $50 million. He is going to push for a rainy-day fund and to increase the county's millage.

Council decreased the property tax rate 17 percent in December because property values increased under last year's court-ordered reassessment. The decrease was necessary because state law requires that reassessments be revenue-neutral.

Robinson, Council President Charles Martoni and Councilman John DeFazio are meeting with Fitzgerald before Tuesday's meeting for a briefing on the budget.

Fitzgerald did not release details ahead of the presentation.

“We're going to try to make sure we hold the line on spending and keep things fiscally sound and try to prevent tax increases for the residents of Allegheny County,” Fitzgerald said during his quarterly address to council last month.

County Council passed the 2013 budget of $799.4 million in early December. It included a $447,000 cut to Controller Chelsa Wagner's office — the only row office that lost funding.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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