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Saturday, January 31, 2015

State Land Tax Fairness Coalition Message Strikes Chord

scales-of-justice-tippedAustin Area School District in rural Potter County is a poster child for the Pa. State Land Tax Fairness Coalition (the coalition’s new website can be found here), with about 90 percent of its real estate tax-exempt due to state ownership. On Thursday, Jerry Sasala testified about the inequities during an appearance before the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission in Greenville. It’s comprised of 12 Senators and Representatives, as well as the State Education Secretary, State Budget Secretary and State Deputy Secretary of Administration. The hearing was video-recorded and will be posted here in the coming days. 

Superintendent Sasala advanced the coalition’s mission to persuade the legislature to increase the in-lieu-of-taxes payments on state-owned land, and provide a cut of the revenue the state derives from gas/oil leases and timber sales for counties, school districts and municipalities. “Our school district is severely stressed by the high proportion of real estate that is owned by the state and is thus tax-exempt,” Sasala told the commission. “By law, school districts, municipalities and county governments depend on the real estate tax for the bulk of their necessary operating revenue. The system is unfair, since property owners face a burden that is clearly disproportional and unfair.”

senpatbrowneagainHis presentation was well-received by State Senator Pat Browne (right), Republican chair of the commission, who assured Salala he understood the coalition’s argument about the tax implications of state-owned land. His message also resonated with Acting State Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, who was unable to attend in person but reviewed Sasala’s written comments and supporting documentation, including maps that are shown on the Pa. State Land Tax Fairness Coalition website linked above.

9 comments :

Anonymous said...

School property taxes have become outdated with running a school district. The lawmakers need to come up with another fee or tax that will cover the costs of educating a student.

Anonymous said...

Great job, Mr. Sasala all Potter County schools are facing a school tax burden.It is not surprising that Austin is at the fore-front on this issue. keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should use their brains and close the Austin school district and send the 20 kids from Austin to Coudersport and save a boatload of money.

Anonymous said...

sending the students to another district would just inpose the taxs of that district on your area. do you really think that would lower taxes?

Anonymous said...

It won't be long before the Austin school district is broken up between the 3 closest surrounding schools coudy,emporium and port . And I believe it will save me (a tax payer) a lot of money. The school and the borough have been mismanaged for many years and it is coming due soon !

Anonymous said...

Good presentation and well received. Now what if any will be done?

Anonymous said...

If the Austin school were to close, there are students who would spend 90-120 minutes just getting TO school. The state also needs to look at the UNFUNDED MANDATES they have placed on our public schools. Great Job Mr. Sasala. Austin is lucky to have you and your support team!

Anonymous said...

ha I have kids on my bus for 60 minutes that could be at the school in ten... boo hoo poor babies.. bus em

Anonymous said...

Feb 2 at 3:41pm - on "my bus"...sounds as if you are an Austin bus driver? Well, perhaps, in your infinite wisdom, you can produce a detailed analysis of the costs of busing (remember, all students from ALL of the routes) and the changes that would have on the annual taxes if we transported students to the other schools. I'm certain you are also considering the impact on these students should they want to engage in after school activities (you know, activities that keep them off the streets!). Please, share with us your advanced analytical skills so we can all share in your enlightened view.