Raeann H./Montgomery County
Upper Perkiomen School District just had the first school board budget meeting this year. The board asked for a color coded budget with red indicating things we had no control over, yellow for things that we can change but the admin wouldn't recommend changing and green for what could be changed. We only covered the red color coded pages but it was 90.82% of the total budget. It was all unfunded mandates, utilities, and special education costs. So, when someone argues about 'local control' tell them school board members don't have local control. The less than 10% of the budget isn't what I call control. Of course, this also included salaries and benefits which, in my opinion, should be included as part of the yellow coded pages as they can be cut or added at any time.
The school district is terrible, they didn't even want our daughter in school because she was ill, forcing us into cyber school. Then the district made us feel like scum because the school had to surrender some of the tax funds to the cyber school that actually educated her. We moved back here from Alabama to get our daughter in what we thought would be better schools. That was a HUGE mistake. Our property and school tax in Alabama was a whopping $137 a year, for a 7 year old home and 13 acres. We pay $3800 a year here for a 60 year old home on a tiny lot. Sales tax in Alabama was 7% in our county. It's 6 to 7% all around us here. I can't see much difference in education. Something needs to be done. My husband and I are looking at moving out of this horrible state as soon as we can. We won't retire in this lousy state, that's for sure.
Shaun N./Somerset County
My spouse and I are both working and have a good income. Our home is mortgage free. We pay into a school district that graduates about 25 students per year. Our combined yearly property tax is $6900 per year for a 28 x 44, A-frame home. We were at $3800.00 until I built a 30 x 40 pole building garage and was reassessed. It will cost us close to $600.00 per month to live in a home that we've already paid for. We are currently planning to sell and leave Pennsylvania for retirement.
Bonnie K./Lebanon County
The house I currently live in has been in my husband's family since it was built in 1876. My husband passed away in August 2016 and I simply cannot afford the maintenance or the almost $5000 in property taxes. I am now faced with the prospect of selling my home and moving.
Donna S. / Bucks County
Health issues have caused my husband and I to fall three years behind in school tax payments with no catching up in sight. Palisades School District has referred our school tax debt to Portnoff Law Associates for collection, adding steep interest and fees to an already unaffordable school property tax bill. The school business administrator doesn't seem to care stating that it's not the districts intent to penalize taxpayers. Under the constant threat of a sheriff sale, we continually fill out hardship paperwork while even more interest and fees accrue. To add insult to injury, the County wants their cut, too. Our home was to be paid for within one year but this school property tax is like having a never ending mortgage payment. This school property tax will end up stealing the joy of our home away from us!
Carl W. / Lehigh County
I am a homeowner/taxpayer in the City of Allentown living on a fixed income and I support HB76 and SB76 to eliminate the school property tax. I am fearful of the possibility of losing my home by sheriff sale by not being able to keep paying the upward spiraling school taxes that are occurring year after year. They say we are a poor school district but all I see is how foolishly they keep using taxpayer dollars. They seem to have no concern for us, and are now using scare tactics for their own agenda because they do not want HB76 and SB76 approved by our legislators.
The money that is used to pay my school tax could be better used by me to make much needed improvements to my home that should be looked after. I am urging our legislators to vote now for HB76 and SB76 to eliminate these taxes and free the homeowner from this burden. Everybody should have an equal share in educating the children of the Allentown and all surrounding school districts in Pennsylvania.
Betty K. / Washington County
When you are in your 50's and get a medical choice of die or spend your retirement to live - my hubby and I were diagnosed the same year - we both chose to live. Now our life savings is gone, our house has been paid for for 20 years, yet we pay $200 a month to live in our home. I work 60 hours a week to pay the monthly bills. We only have enough life savings left to stay in our home for a couple of more years. Please tell me what we should have done differently. Choose to die so others would not be burdened by us living? I have actually been told that would have been a good choice, to not burden others because we got ill. Our illnesses were not the result of poor lifestyle choices. We worked for years to pay our house off in 15 years. Now we are supposed to walk away. We have already paid the value of home in property taxes. What did we do wrong? Work like hell to have the government take it from us?
John H. / Allegheny County
My wife and I are looking to move out of Pennsylvania. We cant handle the taxes anymore. It's a shame. We have lived here all our lives. But can not afford to live here anymore.
Joel S. / York County
Are we supposed to just leave the current system of winners and losers in place? The reality is that the current system is so full of distortions, it would take a lifetime to list them. While I was canvassing during my campaign for the state house, I talked with more than 3,000 voters. Only one was OK with the current system because he has 3 kids in school and pays approximately $3000 in school tax - a good deal by his reckoning. That's it - only 1 in more than 3,000. Among the so-called losers, renters UNANIMOUSLY supported elimination because they felt that it would make it easier for them to buy houses if they choose to. Landlords said they would either lower rents or improve their properties, improvements they postpone now because they increase assessments and, hence, the taxes. Opponents of sales tax say they're regressive. Property taxes, a form of sales tax in disguise, are also regressive as the amount is not a function of income.
My heart broke when I called on an 85-year-old widow in Spring Garden Township (York Suburban School District) whose total income is only $1260, $60 of which is the survivor's benefit from her late husband's "generous" pension. Suburban is contemplating a 2.5% increase in its preliminary budget. That will bring her school tax bill to $2,604 a year which is more than 2 times her monthly income. She's lived in her home since 1974 and counts the days until she can no longer pay her bills. Including her county and township taxes, her total bill is $3536, almost 3 times her monthly income. This is not only impossible for most people to manage, it's immoral.
Her situation is so common that many people have become numb to the stories. Their unwillingness to do what I did - go talk to people - feeds into the problem. I've even heard members of the school board say that people who can't afford their taxes should move to make room for younger people who "deserve" the houses.
The 76s solve this problem and more. They take the power of direct taxation away from school boards who can't (pension) or won't (all-day kindergarten, athletic turf, swimming pools) control spending. We've seen no improvement in any measure of academic performance for more than 20 years as the costs continue their upward march. Only the complete elimination of school tax can end the tyranny and end the threat of losing our homes forever.
Debra R. / Lancaster County
I am retired bringing in less than $900.00 a month and my taxes are $3300.00 a year. Do the math. I barely live. I am diabetic and need insulin. I don't always take it because I can't afford it. My electric will probably be close to $400.00 for this month. I will have to take money out of my 401k which is slowly being drained to pay bills. I do work part-time but it just isn't enough. I know there are people worse off. I am praying for this bill.