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Greensburg council accepts assessment settlement

| Sunday, April 29, 2012, 5:34 p.m.

Greensburg will be shelling out approximately $93,000 over the next few years via a tax assessment settlement supported by city council Monday.

Council voted 3-0 last night to accept the settlement, which resulted from negotiations involving attorneys who represent the Greensburg Salem School District, the Westmoreland County Board of Assessments, the city and those who filed tax assessment appeals in county court.

Greensburg Salem school board voted to accept the settlement last week, leaving the Westmoreland County Commissioners as the last group to have to agree on the terms before they can be presented to the court for further action. The commissioners' vote is expected later this month.

Council members didn't comment on the proposed settlement prior to their vote during the regular meeting. The amount to be paid out or credited over time is equal to nearly two-thirds of a mill in current real estate tax money. A mill raises about $135,000 in the city.

Mayor Karl Eisaman said after the meeting that the lost revenue comes at a particularly bad time for the city because of hiked fuel, road salt and other costs.

"This is just another issue that we have to try to make cuts for to make up for the loss of revenue," he said.

A few of the repayments date back to 2004, according to records prepared by city officials.

City officials plan to make repayments, give credits or do a combination of the two to the taxpayers who are owed under the agreement. The city will have to pay no interest as a penalty.

The settlement shows overpayments to the city include Hawksworth 1, $22,650; Hawksworth 2, $11,397; Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, $28,247; Pershing Square, $20,657; and First Commonwealth Bank, $10,137,

The city also will be receiving some additional revenue through the settlement from Unique Pizza, $523; Frances Hamilton and Kirk J. Kim (Twiggs), $602, and Citizens Bank, $240.

Using the 2008 city millage rate, the last available, city officials are projecting a loss because of the settlement equal to $52,340 for the 2009 budget, which they are in the process of preparing.

The school district will lose a net $426,934 under the settlement. The district, likewise, will be giving refunds or credits on tax bills to the taxpayers and won't have to pay interest as a penalty.

The district will be receiving extra money in five other cases, including three through appeals it filed.

About 15 other appeals filed by the school district remain to be resolved.

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