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Allegheny County Council Passes Property Tax Increase

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It hasn't happened in 11 years, but it happened Tuesday night.

The Allegheny County Council passed a 21 percent increase in property taxes. The vote went along party lines, 11-4.

The Democrats have a super majority, so even if County Executive Dan Onorato vetoes the bill, they have enough votes to override it.

"It's never a good thing to raise taxes," Allegheny County Executive-elect Rich Fitzgerald said.

KDKA's Ralph Iannotti reports:

He says it's become the lesser of two evils with the alternative being deep cuts to social services, community college and in what he sees are essential programs.

"We put off some things," he said. "We deferred maintenance on some of our buildings. We deferred maintenance on some of our roads, some of our bridges. You can only do that for so long and now the bill comes due."

Fitzgerald has come under fire for supporting the tax increase even though predecessor Dan Onorato held the line for the past 10 years.

KDKA's Brenda Waters reports:

But although he concedes that he did not trumpet the need for a tax increase during his campaign, he never ruled one out.

"I've been saying this for years that unless there are other revenue sources coming in like Marcellus Shale or non-profits – which both of which I support – unless they come in we're going to have to raise property taxes and that day has kind of come," Fitzgerald said.

KDKA's Andy Sheehan reports:

And he says that faced with cuts on the federal and state levels, counties, towns and school boards will soon be following suit.

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