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City Property Tax Rate To Decline To Keep City From Illegal Windfall

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- As required by state law after a county reassessment, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has proposed a reduction in the city's property tax rate to keep the city from reaping a windfall from a 48 percent increase in property values under the county's new assessment system.

"Revenue neutral. No windfall," the Mayor said at a press conference Monday morning.

With higher assessments, the Mayor says the city will get the same tax revenue with his proposed lower rate.

"I am proposing that the city reduce its property taxation rate by 30 percent, from 10.8 mills to 7.56 mills," said Ravenstahl.

That means a home assessed at $50,000 would pay $378 in city property taxes; a $100,000 home would pay $756; and a $150,000 home would pay $1,034.

Ravenstahl also wants City Council to raise the homestead exemption for owner-occupied homes from $10,000 to $15,000.

"On a $100,000 home, under the previous homestead exemption, taxes would be valued on a $980,000 value. Under this proposal, it would now be taxed based on $85,000 value."

And for homeowners born before 1960 with income less than $30,000, the Mayor wants to exempt 40 percent of home value from city taxes.

And while taxes will go up for many homeowners, Ravenstahl insists, "We're making the best of a very bad situation here, and that's the hand we've been dealt by the Allegheny County reassessment process."

The city budget director, Scott Kunka, estimates that perhaps 40 percent to 50 percent of properties will pay higher taxes in 2013. About 30 percent will see lower taxes, and the rest would see little change.

The Mayor said the city also continues to review some of the large so-called non-profits that pay no property tax at all, and he left open the possibility of challenging their tax-exempt status.

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