ShareThis Page

Pine-Richland officials consider merits of Homestead Property Tax Assessment Exclusion

| Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

Members of the Pine-Richland School Board discussed the proposed Constitutional Amendment regarding the Homestead Property Tax Assessment Exclusion on the ballot this November during the Oct. 23 general meeting.

The question reads: “Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property, which is the existing law?”

President Jeff Banyas brought the discussion during the board business segment of the meeting in the hopes of helping voters better understand what they may be voting for or against on Nov. 7.

Board member Dennis Sundo said that if the question is fully understood by a voter, he doesn't see why the voter would choose no.

“However, I think if the voter thinks that this is coming down the pike any time soon — meaning money in their pocket — there's no funding source for it. They're basically doubling the cap, and nobody has reached that cap yet anyway. So I think yes, it sounds good, I would vote yes to it, but I certainly don't expect any additional help with my real estate taxes in the foreseeable future as a result of this referendum.”

Board member Peter Lyons agreed that it did sound good and suspects it will pass, but he isn't certain he'll vote for it himself.

“The problem with it is that it sounds good in some ways in that it removes an obstacle that exists in the Pennsylvania Constitution right now, so basically it would give the legislature the ability to enact a 100 percent homestead exemption,” he said. “So if you live in your house they can exempt your residence 100 percent from property taxes, which actually right now is apparently — I didn't know this — contrary to the Pennsylvania Constitution. So that sounds like a good thing. The issue I have is that it just raises questions. Anytime someone wants to give me money but they haven't cut expenses means they're just reaching around into the other pocket, and I'd like to know what pocket they're reaching into.”

Banyas said one of the things that bothers him about it is that while the idea of potentially eliminating property taxes sounds really nice, as Lyons suggested, there's no provision for making up the funding any other way.

“Which means that if all property taxes are excluded it has to be replaced at some point with something, sales taxes and income taxes being high on the list,” he said. “Whenever this community has evaluated property taxes vis-a-vis income taxes and changing from property to income taxes it has been a loser for most of our taxpayers.”

Banyas also speculated that the amendment could open the door for Senate Bill 76, currently being debated, to pass and potentially give Harrisburg greater control of districts and remove local control over money collected.

“That's my reason for not liking this law too much, and it's worded so cryptically that it's very hard to see that coming,” Banyas said. “I think this is important for our community to understand what they're voting for.”

Karen Price is a Tribune-Review contributor.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.