The issue of property taxes and school funding in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania -- unlike Ohio -- money for schools comes from property taxes, not levies, and the school board decides when to raise them

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(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

MERCER CO., Pa. (WKBN) – On Tuesday, Pennsylvania voters gave state lawmakers the okay to eliminate property taxes. But those taxes support the schools and that’s a lot of money to replace.

State Representative Tedd Nesbit’s 8th District covers parts of Mercer and Butler counties. He understands Pennsylvania’s property tax issues.

“It’s not necessarily the most fair way to tax folks and you have a strong argument to make, especially from the seniors, who have paid year after year after year. It’s almost like they don’t own their own home,” Nesbit said.

In comparison, a newer home in Hermitage listed for $320,000 has property taxes of $3,100, while an older home in Sharon for $165,000 has property taxes of $4,800.

As far as the Pittsburgh area, a $430,000 home in Cranberry has taxes of $5,600 but in Plum Borough near Monroeville, taxes on a $360,000 house are $7,000.

“People can make the determination on what school district they want to live in and some school districts have higher taxes than others,” Nesbit said. “That’s one of those things, as a homeowner, you make the decision if that’s where you want to live.”

Pennsylvanians decided on Election Day for the state legislature to get rid of property taxes for primary residences. Property taxes will remain on commercial and industrial properties, as well as on second homes.

One plan proposed in Harrisburg would replace the property tax with increases in income and sales taxes.

Nesbit said he’s not for the property tax revisions currently proposed, though, especially in Grove City.

“We have an outlet mall. We have no tax on clothes and if we added a tax to clothing, that would be very detrimental to my area.”

The power to raise property taxes in Pennsylvania is up to each school board while in Ohio, there are school levies and the voters decide. Nesbit said there was serious discussion about implementing a levy system in Pennsylvania last year, but nothing since.


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