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Allegheny County Reassessment Plan Could Affect Leetsdale, Other Municipalities

Solicitor says the county is expected to provide municipalities new values for all properties by January 2012.

Municipalities throughout Allegheny County could face crippling financial burdens next year if the county meets its current property reassessment timetable.

At its monthly meeting Thursday night, Solicitor Richard Start briefed council on the status of ongoing litigation regarding the reassessment of property values.

Start said in 2009 a plan was finalized in which the county would provide municipalities new values for all properties by January 2012.  These new valuations would then be used to determine the amount of in the new year.

Last month, however, the county notified all parties that new tax values would not be available until April. 

This delay would delay municipalities’ ability to collect tax revenue until the second half of the year.

“This will negatively impact every municipality. We will have to borrow like never before to cover our liabilities,” Start said.

Typically, smaller, local governments borrow money to fund expenses until property taxes are realized. 

In his briefing, Start warned of several consequences that the borough could face as a result of the county’s delay, including resetting of millage rates and the re-opening of the borough’s budget. 

He said the borough would also be faced with additional interest charges due to the potentially higher loan amount.

“If this plan isn’t challenged or stopped, I can’t even begin to tell you how bad it’s going to be,” Start said.

The solicitor said that in the coming months, county municipalities will have the opportunity to share their concerns with Common Pleas Court Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr.

In other legal developments, Leetsdale council voted 4-0 to hold a public hearing for the borough’s new gas well drilling ordinance.

The hearing will be held on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 6:45 p.m. at the borough building.

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