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Occupational tax to increase to $25 in budget proposal

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Thursday, Dec. 16, 2004

Ross commissioners tentatively have decided to increase the township's occupational privilege tax to shift some of the tax burden from property owners to wage earners and reduce dipping into the fund balance to balance next year's budget.

But officials do not plan to increase the tax, also called the emergency and municipal services tax, to as much as the state now allows.

On the recommendation of Commissioner Peter Ferraro, commissioners changed the proposed 2005 budget to increase the tax from $10 to $25. Of that amount, $20 would go to the township and $5 to the North Hills School District.

Municipal governments throughout the state were given authority to raise the tax to as much as $52 as part of the bailout package for the city of Pittsburgh.

The extra $15 on every worker in Ross making more than $12,000 is expected to raise an additional $330,000 for the township, Manager Tom Lavorini said. It would be split evenly between lowering the township's real estate tax and reducing the amount of money taken from fund balance to balance the $12.7 million 2005 budget.

If approved Dec. 27 by commissioners, the township's tax rate would be reduced from 2.0541 mills to 1.9671 mills. The owners of a home valued at $100,000 would see their tax bill reduced from $205 to $196. The amount taken from the township's $3.1 million fund balance would drop from about $720,000 to about $555,000.

"It's not going to be a significant difference, but it's a start," Ferraro said.

Commissioners Dan DeMarco, David Mikec Sr. and Lana Mazur opposed increasing the tax. Gerald O'Brien was absent.

Citing the township's "comfortable" fund balance, DeMarco said he would rather wait until 2006 to increase the tax, after seeing how it impacts other municipalities that opt to raise it next year.

About 22,000 nonresidents work in Ross, compared with 3,200 who are Ross residents, Lavorini said. About 6,130 Ross residents work in the city of Pittsburgh.

Since Ross residents working in the city will have to pay its $52 tax, Ferraro said city residents working in Ross should have to pay more, too.

"We have an opportunity to shift the burden, and this is the appropriate time to do so," Ferraro said.

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