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Politics & Government

Drop in Taxable Property Values Not Expected to Impact County Millage Rates

As counties, municipalities and school districts prepare to send tax bills, Allegheny County is reporting a drop in taxable real estate values. Due to assessment appeals, the overall value of land and buildings in the county dropped by 4.8 percent.

There is now a total of a little more than $75 billion in taxable property in the county, versus more than $79 billion last year. But, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said that’s not unusual following a reassessment.

“What you typically see is the valuation that started out pretty high at the initial reassessment starts to come down as people go and appeal their properties, particularly on the large commercial properties, which take a couple of years to effectuate,” said Fitzgerald.

For example, a building that was assessed at $100 million could have $30 million or $40 million knocked off the value following an appeal. And Fitzgerald said it is not unusual for it to take a few years for large parcels like that to go through the appeals process, which is why the drop is being seen now.

“It does sort of follow a pattern, where you have some of the residential changes that occur, then kind of following that, or lagging that are the huge buildings, the huge commercial property valuations that start to come in as well,” he said.

The drop is not expected to result in a millage rate increase, according to Fitzgerald.

Municipalities and school districts use the county generated numbers when sending out their tax bills.

“Some municipalities may have to make some adjustments,” he said. “You have 130 municipalities that depend on those valuations; you have 43 school districts that depend on those valuations. You’ve got 174 different taxing bodies total that are trying to rely on these.”

The City of Pittsburgh’s tax rate remains unchanged, and only a slight drop in taxable value is expected. Pittsburgh Public Schools will set its 2014 millage rate at its January 22 board meeting. The District asked for a received an extension of the usually December 31st millage setting deadline for fear the number could be substantially lower than predicted.

County tax bills will start going out next month based on a rate of 4.73 mills.