PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — City of Pittsburgh property owners could end up with higher tax rates on their property. That is a proposal by the Pittsburgh Public School superintendent.

It’s part of a plan to have enough money on hand to refund those who win their reassessment appeals.

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Tax rates will be going down in 2013 for City of Pittsburgh property owners, but then they might go up again to protect against successful property assessment appeals.

“As appeals are filed and people’s assessments go down, then that means less revenue for the district,” Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane. “So actually, what we’re trying to do is not increase our revenue, but protect us from actually having less revenue.”

Because tax rates must be set for city schools by year’s end — before all the appeals are completed on the new property assessments – Dr. Lane says it’s prudent to raise $3.2 million to refund those property owners who successfully appeal.

“We’d have to pay them back if they’ve overpaid, so we want to set aside this reserve fund so we can use it to pay people back if they’ve overpaid their taxes,” Dr. Lane says.

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In 2012, with the old assessment values, the school district’s millage rate was 13.92. Next year, with the new assessment values, the rate is required to drop to 9.33 mills.

Dr. Lane is asking the school board to raise that to 9.48, the equivalent to a $30 tax hike on property valued at $150,000.

The superintendent says this slight tax hike won’t resolve the district’s budget problems, but will keep the reassessment mess from aggravating it; and the district is asking the court for a little more time to approve its 2013 budget.

If Judge Wettick grants the extension, the Pittsburgh School Board is expected to vote on this tax increase sometime in mid- to late-January.

If you feel strongly about this, now is the time to contact you school board member.

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