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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Potter County Hosts State Land Tax Fairness Workshop

Potter County Hosts State Land Tax Fairness Workshop

Among panelists were Austin Area School Superintendent Jerry Sasala (standing), who detailed the impact of tax-exempt state land on his district, and Potter County Chief Assessor Jake Ostrom (left).Among panelists were Austin Area School Superintendent Jerry Sasala (standing), who detailed the impact of tax-exempt state land on his district, and Potter County Chief Assessor Jake Ostrom (left).

About 40 county commissioners and others with an interest in tax fairness from across Pennsylvania gathered for a strategy session at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport. Many rural counties in Pennsylvania find themselves stressed by the high proportion of real estate that is owned by the Commonwealth and is thus tax-exempt. The relatively few property owners who remain responsible for paying real estate taxes at the full market value of their homes and acreage are facing an unprecedented burden that is clearly disproportional and unfair.

Earlier this year, the Potter County Commissioners proposed formation of a statewide State Land Tax Fairness Coalition to support two tax relief measures. The coalition has since garnered support from more than two dozen counties, as well as influential organizations such as the County Commissioners Assn. of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State Assn. of Township Supervisors and the Pennsylvania State School Boards Assn.  The coalition is dedicated to:
  • An increase in the in-lieu-of-taxes payments on state-owned land for each of the three taxing bodies (school districts, counties and municipalities).
  • A sharing of the revenue the state derives from future gas/oil leases and timber sales on state forest land with the same three taxing bodies.
mappottertaxland1Potter County was held up as an example. Of the county’s total acreage (691,985), some 291,128 acres, or 42 percent, is state-owned and thus tax-exempt. All told, when other government property, churches and other tax-exempts, as well as “Clean and Green” preferentially assessed properties, are added to the equation, just 15 percent of the total real estate in Potter County (shown in white) is subject to taxation at its market value. By law, school districts, municipalities and the county government depend on the real estate tax for the bulk of their necessary operating revenue. With such a relative few property owners having to carry the entire burden, the system is in a serious state of disrepair.


After two workshops and a roundtable discussion, the group meeting in Coudersport reached consensus on a political strategy. Among the elements is the production of maps that graphically depict the high proportion of state land and reduced-assessment real estate in each county, municipality and school district. These maps will be accompanied by a user-friendly layer of data spelling out the financial impacts on each local government unit. The material will be readily available to county officials, state lawmakers and their staff, statewide lobbying organizations, the media, and anyone else with an interest in the topic. They will be designed to be used in House and Senate hearings, during meetings with lawmakers and others, or in news conferences or other public events.

11 comments :

Anonymous said...

Is that Chuck Norris???

Anonymous said...

Actually it`s Jack Norris. Chucks brother.

Anonymous said...

MR. Sasala should get a handle on the waste full spending at the Austin Area School before he talks about getting more money from the state !

Anonymous said...

EVERYONE needs to be at the polls on the!! This state is a disaster!! The whole country is a wreck because the American society has sat back and watched it happen!!

Share The Wealth said...

Must be 8:44 pays lot rent on his/her trailer, so he/she doesn't care about land taxes. This isn't about your dislike of authority, it is about land owners paying a disproportionate amount of land tax to support said school district. I wholeheartedly agree that the $3.60/acre that the PGC pays puts too large a burden on the rest of us. What a great scam the PGS runs though, they pay very little tax and charge people to hunt "their" deer. If they are on my property, should I not get a cut of the license fee? The PGC contributes NOTHING to feed "their" deer on my property. They eat my corn, they eat my maple saplings, they eat what ever they want and I'm not compensated for the future lost revenue of the timber. (Oh BTW, I have a 12 pointer that is going down on Thanksgiving BEFORE the trailer renters come put on their 10 person drives on the first day!!) Just curious, If a deer damages your car, why doesn't the PGC have to pay? If my cows or horses get out and damage a car, am I exempt also? Don't think so! So, YES, all state agencies should pay their fair share. Change the laws to reflect fairness to all. Nothing against real churches, anyone can claim they have a "church" and not pay taxes on it even though they never hold real services there. Being facetious here, I think I am going to change my house into a church, the garage a parsonage, the barn a storage shed for supplies and the rest of the land is for revivals so it will all be tax exempt!! Let's look into the lost revenue on faux churches too! They have to hold a legitimate service at least once a month.

Anonymous said...

The system of education in Pa. is broken. The only way to get spending in check is to abolish the teachers union which is running the system. Any state
representative that proposes this will never get reelected. Unfortunately, it will always be more ways of finding additional revenue.

Anonymous said...

8:44 if you think you can do a better job , then my goodness get right in there and run Austin School....!!!!
I would love to see how WELL YOU DO!!!! Good Luck!!!

Anonymous said...

10:58 really? I pay outrages taxes on my land that's why i can call him out on wasteful spending in the school district. Funny you didn't mention clean and green i know of many land owners that get huge tax breaks from clean and green while making huge profits from the land. And me having a dislike for authority ? Better read you own post (share the wealth) says it all !

Anonymous said...

Thank you 10:58. Take a drive on Rt. 6 west in Coudersport and when you get past the church there, before you reach the house with the pond across from the Northwoods, feast your eyes on the big long apartment house there. Then check the tax rolls. The tax records are public at the Gunzberger Building. I guarantee that you will want to post a follow up to your comment at 10:58.

Anonymous said...

Share The Wealth/Poacher,

You ignorant little stupid man. You know this world is small up here and the more you run your mouth the easier it is to identify you. You run your trap too much around town. Sounds to me like you just want to complain about crop damage but won't let sportsman hunt your property. You can't have it both ways. I hope that the deer and bear eat you out of house and home and if you do shoot that 12 point illegally that a game warden shoves the rack right up your behind with a healthy citation attached to it.

Anonymous said...

Wow 9:24, have some anger issues towards landowners? I'm pretty sure, NO I'm positive that a landowner can let who he wants on his property. If someone chooses to not want to repair broken fences, pick up trash, repair trails on their property due to the ignorance of some hunters, by all means let him! I personally have never been approached by people hunting my property asking to reroute water from 4 wheelers riding on the same path over and over. They have never asked when clean up day is from trash thrown out by a few ignorant hunters. Like the old adage says, "a few spoil it for all". It is angry people like you that feel entitled who make landowners not want to allow public hunting. I still allow hunting on my property but it is going to have to change due to the ignorance and entitlement of people like yourself. You have no idea what that person goes through with crop damage, trespassers, land damage and surely more 'Member what your Momma said, "Don't criticize until you have walked a mile in their shoes"? Maybe instead of making baseless allegations, talk to him and ask if you can do something for him to help heal those wounds that have been caused by ignorant people that forced that decision to not allow hunters. You are one hunter and you deal with your issues, a landowners deals with MANY hunters and ALL of their issues. Instead of anger, how about the spirit of cooperation?