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Fox Chapel: County partially to blame for property tax hike

| Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Fox Chapel Area School District officials say a major factor in a proposed 7 percent property tax increase is Allegheny County's decision to roll back property assessments to their 2002 value.

The proposed $68.5 million budget was approved by the school board 6-0 on Monday. Board members Sherman Snyder, Sandra Garbisch and Karen Mitesser were absent.

The budget includes a 1.25-mill increase, making the new tax rate 19.07 mills.

District spokeswoman Bonnie Berzonski cited increases in employee salaries, retirement contributions, special education needs, debt payment for renovations, tuition payments for charter and cyber schools, textbooks and utility costs as contributors to the budget increase.

Board President Joel Weinstein said that about a third of the increase is due to the county's decision to roll back property assessments to 2002 values.

"Since the early 1990s, the school district has routinely appealed assessments based on recent real estate sales prices," Berzonski said.

Weinstein said the district has successfully appealed property values since 2002.

"We're all for modification or reduction of property tax," he said. "But under the new regulations (the county has) now, all those times we raised the value of the tax property has been rolled back to the 2002 level."

A school spokesman said that as a result of the rollback, the district could lose more than $58.6 million in assessed market value.

"We lost a little over $1 million in revenue, and we have to make that up," Weinstein said. "That means every other taxpayer has to make up the difference."

An informaton meeting on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. June 8 at the high school in O'Hara.

Additional Information:

About the tax hike

Here's what the 2006-07 tax bill would look like for a property in the Fox Chapel Area School District that is assessed at $100,000:

Old tax rate: 17.82 mills.

New tax rate: 19.07 mills.

Old tax bill: $1,782.

New tax bill: $1,907.

Tax increase: $125.

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