Penn Hills property taxes going up in 2019
Penn Hills residents will owe more in property taxes in 2019.
Council unanimously adopted a $32.6 million 2019 spending plan Dec. 28 that includes a 1-mill increase in property taxes, bumping up the millage from 5.444 to 6.444 mills. Mayor Sara Kuhn and Councilman Gary Underwood were absent from the meeting.
The rate means the owner of a $100,000 home will owe an additional $8.36 per month, or a total of $100.32 more per year.
The rate hike is expected to generate around $1.4 million for the municipality, which will help pay for significant increases in waste services costs. Council hired Republic Services in November for $10.4 million over three years, a 43-percent increase from the previous three-year deal with the same company blamed on the rising cost of recycling.
Municipal Manager Scott Andrejchak used the $1.4 million in new revenue and another $1.4 million from the previous year’s budget fund balance to fill a $2.8 million gap when he proposed the budget to council in October.
He gave council several options on how to generate the $1.4 million needed to fill the gap, one of which included the 1-mill increase. Other options included charging residents a waste services fee or raising the earned income tax.
Residents expressed concern with all three options but were most receptive to the tax hike. Some were worried a waste service fee could mean more litter in the municipality if residents don’t pay it. Others dismissed raising the earned income tax rate as an unacceptable idea.
Penn Hills last raised property taxes in 2011, when the millage rate went from 5.35 to 5.60 mills for 2012’s spending plan. In 2013, the millage was decreased down to 5.44 mills, where it has remained until now.
The 1-mill increase, however, reflects the municipality’s largest single increase since 2003, when council hiked property taxes by 2 mills, from 2.60 to 4.60. That rate remained unchanged from 2004-10, when council raised it to 5.1 mills.
Andrejchak said he eliminated a part-time purchasing agent position in his office and cut funding in the municipality’s information technology department to make room for an executive director and a children’s librarian at the public library.
The changes also allowed the manager to authorize an additional $2,500 in funding to all six Penn Hills fire stations.
To read a copy of the 154-page budget, visit Penn Hills’ website at bit.ly/2ATdBS8.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dillonswriting.