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Politics & Government

Pittsburgh Councilman Proposes Property Tax Relief Program for 2015

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Noah Brode
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council will consider new legislation from Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess that would lay the groundwork for a 2015 property tax relief program for city residents who've both owned their homes for more than ten years and paid higher tax bills following the 2012 property reassessment.

The program would be paid for with a yearly allocation of state funding that is currently being used to pay off a $60 million bond for the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority. That loan will be paid off in full come 2015, so the $7.5 million yearly state grant will become free for other uses that year.

Burgess argued that the URA should have never had access to that state funding, because it was required by state law to be used for a property tax relief program since its inception in 1994.

The councilman said he's introducing the legislation to create that program now because he doesn't want the funding to become earmarked for other major expenses, like employee contracts.

"I think we should do it now, before the city starts budgeting, negotiating with the firefighters and police," Burgess said. "We need to lock these funds up so they go, finally, to the benefit of the people they were intended to — the residents, the homeowners of the city of Pittsburgh."

He said the $7.5 million yearly tax relief program would be open to all residents who've owned the homes they live in for 10 years or more, and paid more in property taxes following the 2012 reassessment. Those who have owned their homes for at least five years would be eligible if they purchased their homes with the help of a nonprofit organization or government entity and also saw higher tax bills.