Government & Politics
3:26 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

City Property Tax Collections Come Up Short

Fall property tax collections for the city of Pittsburgh are $3.7 million below projections, according to the second-quarter report published this week by the mayor's finance office.

The millage rate may now need to be raised in order to correct the shortfall, though budget officials say it's too soon to say whether that will be necessary.

"At this point, everything's under control," assistant finance director Cathy Qureshi said. "There will be an operating surplus at the end of the year, and there's operating surpluses in every year of the five-year plan. So at this point, it's just monitor the situation."

The shortfall stems from the administration's decision to lower the millage rate 30 percent and expand the homestead exemption in response to the 2012 countywide property reassessment.

Officials had sought to avoid over-collecting on property taxes, but apparently miscalculated the adjustment's impact. Rather than having to issue refunds, Qureshi said, "We wanted to err on the side of the taxpayer."

The mayor's office maintains that the city's revenue base is sufficiently diversified that the shortfall poses no immediate budgetary problem.

"We need to see how the end of the year shakes out," Qureshi said. "You know, $3.7 million in one line item is unfortunate, but it's not horrible. We have other line items that are coming in much higher than that to make up the difference. So it's early goings in this discussion."

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported the amount of the city's property tax shortfall. The article has been updated.