Dormont has no plans to take 5 percent increase

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Dormont has lowered its real estate tax rate, but whether that means a lower tax bill for individual property owners depends on Allegheny County.

Borough council Monday adopted a $7.5 million budget that sets the new tax rate at 8.97 mills, down from 14, to adjust for the reassessment of all property in the county. State law prohibits municipalities from getting a financial windfall when properties are reassessed, so many municipalities are reducing their millage rate for next year.

Although the new values are to take effect Jan. 1, the county has yet to release final numbers.

Based on the new tax rate, an owner of property valued at $100,000 would have a 2013 borough tax bill of $897.

Under the law, municipalities can receive a maximum 5 percent increase in tax revenue after an assessment, but Dormont doesn't plan to take the increase.

"We decided [to] not take any of that 5 percent and be as truthful as we can," said Bill McCartney, council president.

The preliminary budget was based on a tax rate of 9.10 mills. With a rate of 8.97 mills, the final document is based on $67,416 less in anticipated revenues compared with the earlier version.

The borough, however, still plans to proceed with a series of major road improvements and to build its reserve fund to protect against financial emergencies, Mr. McCartney said.

The 2013 budget calls for nearly $2.8 million in road improvements, including reconstructing portions of Mervin, Texas, Kelton, Arkansas, Miles, Crosby and Pinehurst avenues. Another $563,000 is going toward resurfacing projects and upgrades to alleys.

Once the county releases its final assessment numbers, council can reopen the budget to adjust it and the tax rate accordingly. Municipalities usually have that option each January, but the deadline could extend later into 2013, according to solicitor John Rushford.

He said some of the county's 130 municipalities are waiting until the start of the year to set their rates.

The possibility exists that the county figures could push the borough's overall assessed value to a point at which the anticipated tax collection total would exceed 105 percent of 2012. In that case, the property tax rate would have to be lowered.

For example, borough manager Jeff Naftal said Keystone Oaks School District took CVS Pharmacy to court regarding the assessment of its West Liberty Avenue property, and the value increased substantially. CVS is appealing, but if the ruling stands, "there would be an extra $3 million of assessed value that I didn't account for," he said.

neigh_south

Harry Funk, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com


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