Allegheny County millage rate deadlines extended to Jan. 31

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Municipal governments in Allegheny County will have until Jan. 31 to set millage rates and pass their final budgets, the judge overseeing reassessment decided on Monday.

State law ordinarily requires that municipalities take those actions by Dec. 31.

Common Pleas Court Senior Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. approved the one-month extension on the same day that he gave the county until Dec. 21 to provide communities with new total, or aggregate, values for all taxable properties. Judge Wettick previously had set a Dec. 17 date for delivering that information to cities, boroughs and townships.

Both deadlines have been extended at the request of several municipal solicitors. The changes will give a quasi-independent assessment appeals board additional time to resolve the more than 100,000 formal challenges to new property values. The county is in the last stages of a court-ordered $15 million reassessment, and the results of those appeals will affect tax rates next year.

The Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review is taking final action on about 1,100 challenges per day, board solicitor David Montgomery has said. He estimated that 90 percent of residential appeals would be completed by the end of next week, which is the new deadline.

Municipalities need to know the new total value of taxable properties to set new millage rates that are "revenue neutral." That means that most communities will be required to lower their rates. Municipal governments are allowed to collect up to 5 percent in additional real-estate tax revenue next year, but officials have to take separate votes to do so.

Lawyer Robert S. "Max" Junker said the extensions will mean that municipal officials will have better information and not have to rely on "bogus numbers" in setting 2013 property-tax rates. He is an attorney with the Law Offices of Ira Weiss, which represents both municipalities and school districts.


Len Barcousky: or 412-263-1159.


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