School budget season brings property tax hikes

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Many homeowners in Cumberland County are about to face a property tax hike to fund schools, which could cost as much as $150 a year.

Meanwhile, state senators say there is a plan in the works to eliminate taxes altogether.

“Our property taxes are outlandish,” said Tracy Baker, a home-owning Pennsylvanian who shares that opinion with many others. “You think you own your property and you’re working just basically to pay your property taxes. It’s crazy.”

Since school let out, district after district in Cumberland County passed budgets with school property tax increases.

The following are percentage increases for some of the major districts:

  • Mechanicsburg Area School District: 2%
  • Cumberland Valley School District: 2.5%
  • Carlisle Area School District: 2.9%
  • East Pennsboro School District: 3%
  • South Middleton School District: 7.3%

“We recognized about a $2.9 million budget deficit,” South Middleton Superintendent Dr. Alan Moyer said.

The average homeowner in South Middleton School District will see their taxes go up a pretty significant $150 a year.

“It was necessary to keep vital services and programs for kids going,” Moyer said.

But what if that money didn’t come from your monthly house bills? That’s what Senate Bill 76 proposes.

“Let’s get rid of the school property tax,” said Sen. Mike Folmer, a Republican representing York, Dauphin and Lebanon counties. “We’re going to increase the personal income tax and we’re going to expand and raise the sales tax by one percent.”

Folmer and other state senators revived the bill from a 2015 tie vote, which ultimately laid the bill to rest.

“No tax should be able to tax you out of your home,” Folmer said.

District officials say that would be nice, but it’s just not practical for school budget planning purposes.

“Utilizing other revenue sources that do fluctuate along with the economy is a bit scary,” Moyer said.

Moyer anticipates minimal, gradual tax increases recommended in the coming years from districts across the state.

Senate Bill 76 has been sent to the Senate Finance Committee.

School districts continue to vote on budgets in the coming weeks.

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