PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – For the first time in 10 years, there are plans to increase property taxes in Allegheny County.

Proponents say it could raise millions of dollars to help restore recent human services cuts in the area.

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Incoming County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is showing support for the proposed property tax increase for Allegheny County. While he will not be voting on the proposed 2012 budget or on this measure, he said without the increase, residents will certainly feel the effects of cuts.

Property taxes haven’t been raised in Allegheny County for 10 years. Now, faced with state and federal cuts, that could change by next year.

County Council is considering raising property taxes to make up for devastating financial losses.

“It’s not a good choice, but it’s better than the alternative of passing a budget without revenue enhancements,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said he believes County Council has exhausted all options. He said many human service agencies are looking at a grim future and hundreds of job losses if property taxes don’t increase.

A one mill increase is being proposed, raising the current rate from 4.69 to 5.69. That means, if you own a house assessed at $100,000, you will be looking at an extra $100 a year.

The increase is expected to bring in millions for the county.

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“It should be anywhere from $45 to $50 million next year and that will plug some of the human service cutbacks. It will plug some of the cutbacks to community college,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald believes there will be enough votes from County Council to have a veto-proof majority.

That would mean current County Executive Dan Onorato could not veto the bill.

Fitzgerald said it’s not an easy decision, but it needs to be done.

“Look, we’re either [going to] have these cuts or we’re [going to] need money to offset these cuts. And this is where Council is stepping up and saying, ‘Look these cuts have gone too far,’” Fitzgerald said.

The vote on the budget and the increase will take place on Dec. 6.


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