South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Winners and losers projected in analysis of reassessments


January 31, 2012

South Side based RealSTATs has taken University of Pittsburgh Economist Christopher Briem to task in analyzing 128,921 taxable parcels in the City of Pittsburgh and in Mount Oliver Borough.

Mr. Briem stated in his January 8 blog post "It works out quite remarkably that it is not 60 percent that will see their taxes go down if the millage is properly reset, but 65 percent. So for everyone who will see their property tax bill go up, almost two homeowners will see their property tax bill go down.

"To overparse a bit, but it is about 3/4 of all owners who are looking at a property tax bill going down, or by increases of 10 percent increase or less."

According to RealSTATs, Mr. Briem is overly optimistic in his estimation.

The South Side company compared 2011 assessments to the recently released 2012 values. Equipped with the respective 2012 budget figures from the City of Pittsburgh, Mount Oliver Borough, the City of Pittsburgh School District, and Allegheny County, they reached several conclusions.

In RealSTATs' Vice President Dan Murrer's analysis, Mr. Briem's prediction that two of three property owners will see their tax bill go down, is far closer to one out of two as indicated by the company in a December 24 report. He feels the suggestion 75 percent of property owners will either see their tax bill go down or increase by ten percent or less, is closer to 62 percent.

While agreeing with Mr. Briem a majority of Pittsburgh property owners will see their tax bill drop after the reassessment, about 69,000 total, Mr. Murrer says 59,000 Pittsburgh property owners will see their tax bill increase.

According to RealSTATs' data, at least 23,000 owners will see their tax bill increase by at least $500 per year, with nearly 23,000 seeing their annual tax bill drop by at least $500.

Those 46,000 individuals, families, partnerships and corporations are the real winners and losers in this year's reassessment, according to Mr. Murrer.

The neighborhoods getting the greatest tax relief include Wards 20 (Sheraden-Elliot-Banksville), 19 (Beechview-Brookline-Mt Washington), 29 (Carrick), 27 (Brighton Heights-Marshall Shadeland), and 28 (Crafton Heights-Westwood). Neighborhoods in red will see red in 2013--they include Wards 9, 6 and 10 (Lawrenceville-Stanton Heights-Morningside), 17 and 16 (South Side), 8 (Bloomfield), and 11 (Highland Park-East Liberty).

Mr. Murrer explains that the total 2011 assessed value multiplied by the city's 10.8 mills yields a gross tax revenue of $145.8 million. The actual budget figure for 2011 was $128.8 million, roughly 11.6 percent less than the total potential revenue.

For the city school district, this gross potential tax revenue is 9.7 percent greater than the actual budget figure.

The RealSTATs analysis therefore gives an 11 percent allowance for tax increment financing and various exemptions. The new total assessed value of the 128,291 taxable parcels is $20.98 billion, up about 55 percent from 2011's $13.51 billion. Allowing an 11 percent reduction for TIF's and exemptions yields a total actual taxable value of $18.7 billion.

Given this assessment figure, the City of Pittsburgh will set its 2013 millage at 7.2 mills and the School District will set its millage to 9.1 mills. RealSTATs projects a 2013 county millage of 3.5 mills.

The total of these three is 19.8 mills, a drop of nearly 33 percent from the current 29.41 mills. It was this millage that was multiplied by the new assessments for each of the 128,291 taxable parcels.

Mr. Murrer says an individual City of Pittsburgh property owner may apply this same figure (19.8 mills) to their reassessed value to estimate their tax in 2013. If the figure is lower than the current tax, they rank among the winners. If the figure is higher, they lose.


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