Improving Home Rule in Allegheny County as the Second Decade Begins

As home rule government begins its second decade in Allegheny County-the effective date of the Home Rule Charter was January 1, 2000-taxpayers and residents of the County have several big issues coming at them related to their government. 

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And Now…The Rest of the Story

With apologies to the late Paul Harvey, we have to weigh in on the comments made by the County Council President at last night’s meeting on the 2010 budget that "the story here is that for the ninth year in a row now, this council has not raised property taxes even as all our neighboring counties continue to raise taxes".

How about including in that story the fact that the state enabled Allegheny County alone to levy two new taxes, one on liquor, the other on car rentals, which allowed the County to use those revenues to fund mass transit? Or that Allegheny County, along with Philadelphia, were the sole recipients of economic development money from the gaming proceeds? Or that the County took first call of money intended for the Airport Authority by claiming it was owed money for the airport’s construction-and then taking the payments in two lump sums?

And the Council President betrays what he and the Executive and other base year proponents have said for years-that a base year prevents tax increases. If so, why would the neighboring counties-the ones that we are constantly told are on old assessment years-be raising taxes?

Or closer to home, how has the County’s base year prevented municipalities and school districts from raising millage rates? It hasn’t. Just this week the large North Hills suburb of Ross Township announced that they might be raising millage. They would join the significant number of towns and school districts that have higher millage rates now than they did in 2003, the first full year following the last reassessment.