A $15.7 million budget proposed in Ross projects a slight increase in expenditures and a drop in the millage rate, but it may not translate into a lower tax bill for some residents because of the recently completed reassessments.
Commissioners introduced ordinances setting the budget and tax rate Monday and will vote on them Dec. 17.
The proposed general fund budget is $15,775,240, an increase of $437,815 from the current budget. Interim manager Debby Grass is recommending commissioners lower millage from 3 mills to 2.7 mills.
In her budget message to commissioners, Mrs. Grass said the township is facing "some unique challenges" in 2013 because the real estate taxes are based on updated assessments and the township is in the second year of wage tax being collected by Keystone Collections Service, "which has caused considerable uncertainty."
Municipalities need to know the new total, or aggregate, value of all taxable properties in their communities in order to set new millage rates.
The county was to have delivered post-appeal property values by Dec. 17, but Senior Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. has approved a three-day delay until Dec. 20.
State law requires municipalities to trim their millage rates to make the effect of higher assessed values revenue neutral.
Local governments are allowed to collect an additional 5 percent in real estate revenues following reassessment, but officials must approve those increases by separate, public votes.
That task of calculating an "anti-windfall" millage rate has been made harder, because the final outcome of assessment appeals, especially on many commercial properties, remains unknown.
As of Nov. 30, of the more than 16,000 appeals of commercial reassessments across the county, only about 6,000, or 37 percent, had been completed with the results mailed to owners.
Another 3,500 are scheduled to be heard by the appeals board soon with 3,000 not yet scheduled.
Mrs. Grass said the largest line items in the proposed budget are for police protection, $6.6 million; public works, $3.9 million; and parks and recreation, $1.1 million.
Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org