EDITORIAL: Push for Property Tax Elimination Set for Monday

by Jorn Jensen

School district property taxes are rising much faster than the gross average weekly wage or inflation and people are losing their paid-off homes to this perpetual school district tax rent on their paid-off homes..

Over the past 20 years, school property taxes have risen, on average, 146 percent, while average weekly wage has risen 84 percent and inflation has risen 59 percent, according to the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office. The impact on the property owner is even more staggering when you realize the average weekly wage is calculated in gross wages, not net wages.  My personal property taxes have risen 25 percent in just the recent 5 years alone.

The proponents of eliminating school property taxes correctly point out that the burden of funding schools unfairly targets, and financially hurts, the homeowner, landlord, and small business owner. There are 3.2 million homeowners paying property taxes in Pennsylvania while there are 12.7 million Pennsylvania residents.  Do the math.

Data on rental rate increases reveal that renters are also being financially punished by out-of-control, rapidly rising property taxes. Over the same 20 year period, rental rates have increased 100 percent, on average, according to census records.  This demonstrates that landlords are unable to pass along the full increase of school property taxes.

School property taxes slowly erode the standard of living of everyone living in Pennsylvania, hurting lower-income folks and contributing to community blight all across the state. There is very low impetus to maintain or upgrade property because owners are squeezed financially by increased property taxes for upgrades.  This has created a self-perpetuating downward spiral with regard to property maintenance in our communities.

On Monday, May 16th,  a group of Indiana/Armstrong Counties taxpayers will travel to Harrisburg to meet with HB & SB 76 – friendly legislators and show support for passage of HB/SB 76, property tax elimination.  State Senator Don White is SB 76- friendly and a supporter of SB 76 – he has agreed to receive and meet with the group.

State representative Jeff Pyle, who ran on, and was elected on his property tax elimination platform, has voted down every HB 76 bill presented, and has not presented a property tax elimination bill of his own writing. We don’t suspect that he’ll want to meet with us.

Indiana County commissioners are traveling along. By this letter to the editor, I am inviting the Armstrong County commissioners to travel along with us.