Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline
As the year winds down, I want to remind everyone the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is still accepting applications for the 2014 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The deadline to submit an application is quickly approaching – next Thursday, Dec. 31.
If you did not receive an application, or did not apply last year and wish to apply this year, applications can be obtained from any of my district offices and my staff would be happy to assist you in preparing your application.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and over; widows and widowers age 50 and over; and people with disabilities age 18 and over. Homeowners with a maximum yearly income of $35,000 and renters with a maximum yearly income of $15,000 are eligible for a rebate. Keep in mind that half of Social Security income is excluded.
Due to program changes enacted last year to ensure claimants aren’t disqualified from rebates solely because of Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, homeowners and renters may be eligible for rebates even if their eligibility income is greater than these limits. Any homeowner who collected Social Security, received a property tax rebate in 2013 for claim year 2012 and had annual income last year, discounting half of Social Security, up to $36,129, is encouraged to apply for a rebate for claim year 2014. Any renter in that same situation with an annual income in 2014, discounting half of Social Security, up to $15,484, is also encouraged to apply.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) is continuing to accept applications for this season’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The program helps low income families pay their heating bills. You can apply and check the status of your application on the state’s COMPASS website. You can also pick up an application in my district offices or download one yourself from the DHS LIHEAP website. Completed paper applications should be returned to one of the Allegheny County Assistance Offices.
Funding for LIHEAP is provided by the federal government and eligibility is based on Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. The income limits for this season are as follows:
|For each additional person add
After your application is received you will receive a written notice explaining your eligibility and the amount of assistance you will receive. Payments are generally sent directly to a utility company or fuel provider and will be credited to your heating account. Crisis grants may also be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your heat. For more information, please contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is accepting applications for the federally funded Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) through January 8, 2016.
TAP projects enhance pedestrian and bicycle facilities, improve access to public transportation, create safe routes to school, preserve historic transportation structures, provide environmental mitigation, create trails that serve a transportation purpose, and promote safety and mobility.
Eligible applicants include all Pennsylvania local governments; regional transportation authorities; transit agencies; natural resource or public land agencies; school districts, local education agencies, or schools; Tribal governments; and any other local or regional governmental entity with responsibility for oversight of transportation or recreational trails (other than a metropolitan planning organization or a state agency) that the state determines to be eligible.
Projects must have a construction cost of at least $50,000 but may not exceed $1 million, unless the project is of exceptional regional or statewide significance. Applications will be reviewed based on such criteria as safety benefits, reasonableness of cost, readiness for implementation, statewide or regional significance, integration of land use and transportation decision making, collaboration with stakeholders, and leverage of other projects or funding.
There is currently $9 million available to be administered statewide through PennDOT, and up to $11 million to be administered through six large Metropolitan Planning Organizations. For more information please click here.
Rebates for Alternative Fuel Vehicles
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is offering rebates to Pennsylvania residents to assist with the cost of purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle. These rebates are funded by the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program, which is supported by a gross receipts tax on utilities. To qualify, the vehicle must be registered in Pennsylvania, operated primarily in-state, and be purchased no more than six months before the rebate application is submitted.
Large-battery vehicles are eligible for a rebate of $2,000. DEP is also offering rebates of $1,000 for plug-in-hybrid electric vehicles and battery-electric vehicles. Rebates of $1,000 are also being offered for natural gas, propane, hydrogen or fuel-cell vehicles. A $500 rebate is available for electric motorcycles and scooters.
There are only a limited number of rebates available at $2,000. The rebate program offered will be reassessed upon payment of the first 250 rebates at $2,000 or June 30, 2016, whichever occurs first. For more information on the program and to apply for a rebate, please click here or call 1-866-294-3854.
Did You Know…
Did you know since 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy has reduced the costs of producing electric vehicle batteries by more than 35 percent?
Gaming Revenue Increases
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced last week that gross revenue from table games play at the state’s 12 casinos increased by nearly three percent in November compared to the same month in 2014. Gross revenue from table games in November was over $65.5 million compared with the $63.7 million in revenue in November 2014. Total tax revenue generated during November from table games play was over $9.3 million.
The increase in table games revenue coupled with the earlier reported 2.2 percent increase in slots revenue for November resulted in an overall gaming revenue increase for November of 2.4 percent compared with last November.
Table games in Pennsylvania are taxed at 14 percent with the majority of that revenue directed into the state’s General Fund and the remaining funds directed to local governments. Slot machines are taxed at 55 percent in Pennsylvania and directed as follows: 34 percent for property tax reduction; 12 percent supporting the horse racing industry; five percent is placed in a state economic development fund; and two percent goes to local governments that host casinos.
The state’s gaming industry employs over 17,700 people and generates an average of $3.7 million per day in tax revenue from both table games and slot machines. For more information on gaming in Pennsylvania and to read reports from the Gaming Control Board, please visit www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.
First Night Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is once again producing First Night Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve. This year’s celebration marks the 22nd anniversary of First Night Pittsburgh and the 13th as a production of the Cultural Trust. As the largest single-day celebration in the region, First Night offers approximately 150 events at nearly 50 indoor and outdoor locations within the 14-block Cultural District with 90 percent of events taking place indoors. This family-friendly event provides the city the opportunity to ring in the New Year with a bang while celebrating Pittsburgh’s many rich cultural assets.
First Night Pittsburgh kicks off at 6 p.m. on Dec. 31 with a children’s fireworks show and concludes with the countdown to midnight, and the raising of the Future of Pittsburgh Ball at midnight, with tons of fun in between. This year, The Wailers will perform as the headline act during the Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale. The Wailers epitomize this year’s Highmark First Night Pittsburgh theme, “Around the World – Around the ‘Burgh,” by bringing to Pittsburgh, the site of Bob Marley’s final performance, a legacy and sound celebrated internationally for more than 50 years.
To view the many activities taking place during First Night and for a full schedule of events, shows and entertainment and information on how to purchase all-access buttons please visit www.firstnightpgh.org.
Christmas Tree Recycling Program
The Allegheny County Department of Parks is offering its annual Christmas Tree Recycling program this holiday season. Residents of Allegheny County can drop off their Christmas trees beginning on Dec. 26 at all nine regional parks from dusk to dawn. The program runs through January 16.
All lights, decorations, tinsel and stands must be removed from trees prior to drop-off. The trees will be mulched and used in Allegheny County’s nine regional parks. Trees may be dropped off from dawn to dusk at the following locations in each of the parks:
- Boyce Park – parking lot by the wave pool
- Deer Lakes – parking lot by the Veterans Shelter
- Harrison Hills – parking lot at the intersection of Chipmunk & Cottontail Drives
- Hartwood Acres – parking lot at the mansion
- North Park – parking lot at the swimming pool
- Round Hill – parking lot between Meadow & Alfalfa Shelters
- Settler’s Cabin – parking lot by the wave pool
- South Park – parking lot by the swimming pool
- White Oak – parking lot by Poplar Shelter
For directions to each park, please visit http://www.alleghenycounty.us/parks/index.aspx.
The average daily temperature in the Pittsburgh region during the month of November was 48.5 degrees. That figure represents the highest average temperature during November since 1931 when the average that year was 51.6 degrees.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
|| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
524 Pine Hollow Road
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Tuesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Strip District (Mobile Office)
Pittsburgh Public Market
2401 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Thursdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Northside (Mobile Office)
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesdays – 10 am – 4 pm