Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is proposing increases in the city's Homestead exemption and Senior Tax Relief Credit, as well as a reduced millage rate. This comes in response to higher property values found through the court-appointed property reassessments.
Property values in the city increased 48 percent between 2002 and 2012, when non-taxable land is taken into account it amounts to a 40 percent increase. In an effort to keep taxes lower for some homeowners, Ravenstahl is proposing an increase in the Homestead Exemption from $10,000 to $15,000 dollars. He is also proposing an increase for senior tax relief, which benefits senior homeowners with an annual income of $30,000 or less.
“We will increase that relief from 30 percent to 40 percent so to use the $100,000 example, last year’s taxes would be based on $70,000; after the 30 percent reduction, under this proposal it would now be taxed at a rate of $60,000,” said the mayor.
As required by law, Ravenstahl is also proposing a millage rate reduction of 30 percent for 2013. That means a house valued at $100,000 dollars would go from generating $1,080 in city taxes to $756.
City Council President Darlene Harris said she supports the proposals, along with City Councilman Ricky Burgess, “What I am grateful for is that there has been a concerted effort to take into account those residents who live in low and moderate-income communities and to focus on them to make sure that their taxes absolutely do not increase.”
Ravenstahl said these proposals are revenue-neutral.
“We’ve committed to not receiving any windfall,” he said, “for example, if these numbers end up being wrong and we collect more than expected, we will do one of two things, either we will refund the property owner, and/or we will adjust our 2014 millage rate accordingly.”
Overall, the news of higher property values is considered good, though Ravenstahl added, it’s sort of a mixed-bag.
“I think it’s obviously good news, that the values in Pittsburgh have increased, that doesn’t mean we are supportive of the process that, unfortunately, has taken place and has been mandated to go through,” he said, “we are doing our best to make sure homeowners are not negatively impacted by this.”
Ravenstahl added there are still a number of eligible residents who don’t realize they qualify for the Homestead Exemption or Senior Tax Relief. In the next couple of months, he said his office and city council will be working to educate residents and assist residents.
The proposals will be taken up by city council this week; the millage rate reduction must be approved by January 31st.