Baldwin Borough's council members agreed on Tuesday night to a timeline and process that will eventually set the borough's real estate tax rate for 2013 at 5.41 mills, or $541 per year for anyone with a property valued at $100,000 (land and building value combined).
That represents a reduction of 1.2 mills from Baldwin's 2012 rate of 6.61, but due to a recent countywide real estate reassessment that raised the value of most Baldwin properties, many property owners in the borough will still see an increase in the amount of tax dollars that they'll be responsible for this year.
(Click here to calculate your individual taxes based on 2012's millage rate.)
Because of the increase in average property value—though some assessments are still being appealed across Allegheny County, including in Baldwin—borough officials would not have been able to keep the same millage rate from 2012 to 2013. Doing so would have resulted in a "windfall" of increased tax revenue for the borough, something that is illegal.
However, the law allows for the borough to adjust its lowered millage rate at 105 percent instead of just 100 percent in order to bring in more revenue, and the council is doing just that with a 5.41-mills decision.
The council will have to take some necessary legal steps in order to reach 5.41, borough solicitor Stanley B. Lederman explained on Tuesday night, such as first approving Baldwin's millage at a revenue-neutral rate of 5.15. But after an expected special council meeting to be held on Jan. 22 at 7 p.m., the millage should eventually rise back up to 5.41 in time for property owners to pay their 2013 tax bills.
"We do it that way because the law is specific that you have to do it (set the 105-percent millage) through two separate, distinct votes," Lederman said.
As for how Baldwin is able to appropriately set its millage rate when not all assessments appeals have been ruled on yet, Lederman said, "We've tried to take into account a reasonable number for how many of those appeals may be successful, partially successful or not.
"All a budget is is your guess, so we've accounted for that in the rate we're setting the budget at."
After advertising the borough's 2013 budget in early December, the Baldwin Council acted on Lederman's advice later that month and rescinded its decision until it was able to set a millage rate.
As such, the council approved on Tuesday night by a unanimous vote the re-advertising of the 2013 budget, a copy of which is available at the borough municipal complex along Churchview Avenue.
Click here for more Baldwin Borough news.
And check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch on Wednesday for more odds and ends from Tuesday night's council meeting.
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