Allegheny County executive Fitzgerald proposes 2013 operating budget

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Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald tonight proposed an operating budget for 2013 that calls for no overall change in property tax rates.

His preliminary spending plan totals $799 million, an increase of $15 million, about 2 percent, above this year's $784 million.

Mr. Fitzgerald presented his proposed budget to county council, which has the final word on both county spending and tax rates.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Senior Judge R. Stanton Wettick has ordered that new assessments for all real estate take effect in 2013, which will require recalculation of the county's millage rate. Although Mr. Fitzgerald's plan is for the new rate to be revenue neutral, some homeowners are likely to see changes in how much they pay in property taxes. Their 2013 county tax bills will depend on how their new assessments compare to the average for the county overall.

Mr. Fitzgerald told council it would be three or four weeks before his administration would be able to calculate that new millage rate. The current rate is 5.69 mills.

The biggest structural change in his proposed budget is the creation of a new department of facilities management. Its employees would be responsible for doing major maintenance and upgrading of county facilities like the jail, Ken nursing homes, park amenities and other buildings.

Mr. Fitzgerald proposed a 2013 budget of about $21 million for the new department. Its staff of 260 would be taken primarily from existing county employees in the parks, public works and administrative services departments. Those departments would see off-setting reductions in their budgets.

The biggest source of new revenues in the preliminary spending plan is an additional $10 million in filing fees collected by the department of real estate. That money will help to offset an expected loss of more than $4.5 million in federal and state aid.

Council will hold public hearings on the proposed budget next month and will take final action on spending and taxes in early December.

Len Barcousky: or 412-263-1159. breaking - region


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