How property tax act would affect homeowners

Author: , Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published: Oct 03 2013 06:10:19 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 03 2013 07:24:25 PM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. -

Some state law makers want school districts to decide where they get their tax dollars.

House Bill 1189 would allow districts to shift some of the burden from one area to another.

State Lawmakers say house bill 1189 puts the power of tax relief into the hands of local school districts.

"What it does is it gives school boards the option to raise different taxes such as a business tax, a mercantile, a personal income tax and offset that purely as an offset to property taxes," said Pennsylvania Representative Ryan Mackenzie.

Mackenzie says the idea is for districts to be able to make the way they raise revenue more equitable for everyone in their district instead of placing all of the burden on property owners.

The house approved the measure.

But Representative Mario Scavello voted against it.

Scavello says giving districts more control over their tax dollars is a good idea but 1189 does not create new revenue or address what he calls inequitable funding in fast growing districts like those in Monroe County.

"If you have been under funded for many years giving you options on how you can fund schools doesn't answer the overall problem," said Scavello.

"This is an interesting twist," said Muhlenberg College Professor Chris Borick.

Borick says property tax reform has been a perpetual issue in Pennsylvania politics.

He says if 1189 passes he thinks many school districts will opt in.

"It's not a one size fits all, it's not top down from Harrisburg it would really let the individual school districts attempt to make this change," said Borick.

Bill 1189 is now in the hands of the Senate and if passed school districts could be shifting property tax revenue in 2015.