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Last Of Allegheny County Reassessment Letters Go Out To North & West Homeowners

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) --A new batch of Allegheny County assessments are arriving in homeowners' mailboxes, the last ones in the county to be mailed.

About 160,000 property owners in the North Hills and west suburbs of Allegheny County are getting their 2013 reassessment notices in the next few days.

Mike Maxson of Moon had not yet received his notice and, like many homeowners, said he was holding his breath about tax increases.

"I've heard that they may [go up]. I'm not really sure. I'm waiting to see," he says.

Robert Pepe, also of Moon, had a similar view.

"I'm going to wait and see before I get excited and start worrying about appeals," he said.

Moon Township manager Jeanne Creese told KDKA-TV's Money Editor Jon Delano that she does expect a flurry of phone calls as notices hit the mailboxes.

"We anticipate we'll get quite a few calls from residents who are quite upset or at least confused," she said.

Part of the confusion will stem from the area being the last to receive their notices.

Creese says homeowners in this final batch of letters have a shorter time to appeal than others in the county.

"In an area where you are at the end of the process, you've got a really short window to appeal and we think that's a little confusing to our residents."

The county says it will hold town meetings in all parts of the county to help homeowners through the process, but many taxpayers think higher assessments mean higher taxes.

Ben Betz of Robinson is one of many taxpayers expecting bad news.

"I'm waiting, I'm waiting," he says. "I'm anticipating it to go up. Most definitely, most definitely, and nobody likes new taxes."

Most homeowners tie higher assessments to higher taxes.

"I'm not too familiar with exactly what the taxes are to be raised in the area, but I did hear that they would be going up," Maxson says.

It's true that higher assessments often mean higher taxes, but not necessarily this year.

It's important to understand that the 2013 reassessment letter that you've been getting has nothing to do with 2012 taxes that you may have to pay.

If your taxes this year are going up, that's because your school board or local municipality have raised millage rates.

It has nothing to do with the 2013 reassessment.

"The new assessed rate goes into effect with your 2013 taxes," Crease says.

County taxes are going up twenty-one percent this year for everyone, but that's because of County Council, not reassessment and some communities and school districts are expected to raise taxes this year, too.

Next year - 2013 - the county, school districts and municipalities may have to reduce tax rates to avoid getting a windfall from the higher assessments.

"Now that we have the reassessments, we are going to do that calculation," Creese says.

And that could mean lower taxes next year, not this year - for some.

There is a very short window of opportunity for folks in the North Hills and west suburbs to file an appeal of this assessment notice. It's March 16th for that informal review and April 2nd for the formal appeal.

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