Braddock passes tax increase

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Braddock's Borough Council tonight unanimously passed an income-tax increase for both residents and nonresidents that officials say is necessary to plug a budget gap created by U.S. Steel's successful challenge of the assessed value of its Edgar Thomson plant.

The ordinance raises the earned-income tax rate from 1.1 percent to 1.5 percent for residents and from 1.05 percent to 1.2 percent for nonresidents and is expected to bring in an extra $100,000 a year in revenue.

U.S. Steel won a succession of tax appeals earlier this year that resulted in the assessed value of various company properties in Allegheny County plummeting by tens of millions of dollars and creating revenue shortfalls for local school districts and municipalities.

The value of the portion of the Edgar Thomson plant in Braddock went from about $12.1 million in 2012 to $517,000 this year, creating a $164,000 gap in the Braddock budget.

Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who was not at the meeting, says he will veto the tax increase. Mr. Fetterman is working with U.S. Steel on the new assessments and says a tax hike may not be necessary.

Borough Council President Tina Doose says the mayor has 10 days to veto the ordinance and then the council will vote to override it.

"That's exactly what's going to happen," Ms. Doose said, adding that the borough budget of $1.7 million, which was also passed Tuesday and which will be available for review in the borough offices for the next 10 days, can't sustain a hit of that size. "It's necessary. Things are quite trimmed back. We've done some slicing and dicing. ... I want our community to be safe. We have to run a government."

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