BRADDOCK (KDKA) — The Borough of Braddock depends on taxes from U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thompson Works for about a third of its operating budget.

So when the Board of Assessment Appeals reduced the valuation of the mill from $23.5 million to $5.1 million, the borough stood to lose $160,000 in tax revenues.

It’s something Mayor John Fetterman says would be devastating.

“It would have been crossing guards, it would have been police,” said Mayor Fetterman. “What we would have had to do would have set us back dramatically fiscally.”

But Braddock is not alone.

In Clairton, the county had assessed the Clairton Works a $14.7 million, but the board reduced that assessment to $2.5 million.

That means the City of Clairton will lose $214,000 in tax revenues.

Unlike some wealthier towns, Clairton just can’t afford that kind of loss. The blow for the Clairton School District would be even worse.

If the new assessment stands, U.S. Steel’s school tax bill will be reduced from $545,000 to $130,000. That means the steel giant will be paying the district $416,000 less in taxes.

“To lose this much tax base is devastating to the district,” said Janet Burhardt, an attorney.

But in the past two months, Mayor Fetterman has been in talks with the steel giant, which will now restore that $160,000 to this coming year’s budget.

“The town started with the birth of the steel industry, and we hope to have them around here for a long while, and they’ve just been incredibly decent through this entire process,” said Fetterman.

U.S. Steel has no such agreement with the City of Clairton and its school district, which are appealing the assessment reduction in court.

But the tax relief in Braddock couldn’t come at a more opportunities time as the borough struggles to regain its footing and can’t afford any missteps.

Massive Reductions In Tax Assessments Could Spell Disaster For Mill Towns (10/30/13)
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