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Tax Dollars

Pennsylvania Department of Education sets property tax limits

| Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, 12:00 p.m.

Pennsylvania school districts will be able to increase property taxes by at least 2.4 percent in the 2018-19 school year, though a select few in the Pittsburgh region can go as high as 3.9 percent, if they choose.

The state Department of Education set the limits.

This chart shows the tax-increase limit for each district in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties and other select districts in the TribLIVE coverage area included:

Districts can exceed their limits only with approval from voters at a referendum or through referendum exceptions from the state. Exceptions are available only for school construction debt, special education spending and retirement contributions.

The statewide base is down slightly from 2.5 percent for the 2017-18 school year. Adjusted limits for most districts went down by the same amount.

The limits are set as part of the state's Taxpayer Relief Act, Act 1 of 2006. The statewide index is based on the statewide average weekly wage and the employment cost index. It is then adjusted for each school district, with poorer districts being able to increase property taxes more than wealthier ones.

The decision to increase property taxes, if at all, is up to each district's school board.

Since 2006, the statewide base has been as low as 1.7 percent in 2013-14 and 2011-12, and as high as 4.4 percent in 2008-09.

School boards must decide by Jan. 25 if their districts will not raise taxes by more than their indexes. If not, they have to make a proposed version of a preliminary 2018-19 budget available for public inspection.

Districts seeking referendum exceptions to raise taxes higher than their indexes have to seek approval from the Department of Education by March 1.

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