Etna council urges state lawmakers to reform reassessments

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Heeding a call from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Etna council unanimously voted to urge the Legislature to pass statewide reassessment reform to ensure consistent property reassessments across Pennsylvania.

The resolution will be placed in the form of a letter and sent to legislators. Council approved the measure Tuesday night.

Etna residents saw their assessment values rise $12 million in the county's court-ordered reassessment, according to council President Peter Ramage. He said that translated to an 11 percent increase -- below the 30 percent county average.

Mr. Ramage predicted that when council complies with state law to avoid a tax revenue windfall from reassessment, it likely would lower the property tax rate to 8 mills, a 1-mill decrease.

In other action, Mayor Thomas Rengers praised police Officer Casey Bonincontro for his recent actions that broke up what authorities believe was a crime ring responsible for numerous robberies across the North Hills.

Officer Bonincontro was the first officer on the scene of a robbery at 4:30 a.m. March 4 at the McDonald's on Route 8 in Shaler.

The officer chased and eventually apprehended one of the suspects, who had a knife and a firearm, according to Mr. Rengers. Shortly after that, two other men were apprehended. The three are suspected of being involved in more than half a dozen incidents across the North Hills, according to Mr. Rengners.

Council and the mayor expressed gratitude for the swift and effective response of Officer Bonincontro.

In another matter, council heard its annual update on the status of the police pension plan. Steve Shapiro, a PNC Financial adviser overseeing the portfolio, reported that at the end of February, the plan had an estimated value of $1.784 million -- a net gain of $134,000 since Jan. 1.

The adviser noted that is an 8 percent increase, better than the estimated 6.5 percent analysts expected for the plan. Mr. Shapiro also said that the plan was 90 percent funded.

On another public safety issue, Greg Porter, chief of the volunteer fire department, reported the organization won federal grants of $90,000 toward unspecified equipment and $300,000, which likely will be used toward purchase of a new fire truck.

Chief Porter expressed hope that the new vehicle would replace a 1998 truck nearing the end of its recommended usefulness.

Tim Tuinstra, freelance writer: .


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