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Reassessment Delays Could Interfere with 2012 Municipal Budgeting

Municipalities are worried that the delay in Allegheny County's property reassessment process will interfere with their 2012 budgeting processes.

Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick said "aggregate" estimates of the new property values will be available for municipalities and school districts for their 2012 budgets, which must be finalized by February 15.

Local governments will use the updated property values to determine tax revenues, and set millage rates accordingly.

Although final reassessment values were originally due at the end of December, the County says it needs until early April to finish the process.

Patrick Clair, a lawyer representing four Allegheny County school districts, said it's frustrating that the County is behind schedule.

"This now has the potential to get deeply into the gearbox of municipal government, in its functioning," said Clair. "Not merely what the revenue will be, but how they go about the process of budgeting and implementing municipal government over the next year."

Allegheny County's reassessment chief, Wesley Graham, said preliminary reassessment numbers won't be fully tallied until late December.

Lawyers representing local governments asked that they be given those preliminary values as soon as possible, so they can budget appropriately.

Since Pittsburgh needs to collect taxes before most other governments, Judge Wettick said he'll order the County to finish reassessments in the city first — a move that will likely further push back the release of final reassessment values for municipalities.