Local School Districts Ask State For Permission To Raise Taxes

By Jon Delano, KDKA Political Editor

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A number of local school districts have asked permission to raise school property taxes significantly.

While Pennsylvania’s Department of Education won’t confirm this yet, KDKA-TV has learned some local school districts have applied – and received – exceptions to a state cap that limits tax hikes.

School district officials say they are caught between a rock and a hard place – especially as government mandates for special education and pensions go up and state support go down.

School districts across Pennsylvania are facing up to a budget reality from Harrisburg.

“The basic subsidy was decreased substantially and districts are struggling with it,” says Linda Hippert, executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

Hippert, a former South Fayette school superintendent, says districts are dealing with the loss of millions of state dollars.

“They’re really trying to be as creative as they can, but very concerned about the education for the children,” she said.

At one time, school boards could raise taxes as high as they wanted. That changed five years ago.

Under current state law, school districts are only allowed to raise taxes by an indexed inflation amount, generally around one to two percent this year.

But because of Governor Corbett’s education cuts and lots of unfunded mandates, school districts are feeling the pressure to raise taxes even more.

A loophole in state law allows districts with certain fixed costs to raise taxes above the inflation rate with state approval.

Local districts seeking that approval are Bethel Park, Elizabeth Forward, Franklin Regional, Freeport Area, Gateway, Highlands, Northgate, Riverview, and South Fayette.

Highlands has just been approved to raise taxes 14 percent.

“I don’t see that going to 14 percent,” Highlands Business Manager Jon Rupert told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano.

Rupert says it’s not a done deal but the state keeps making things worse.

“Not only are the mandates required, they’re unfunded,” he said. “Then they pass Act 1 where you’re only allowed to increase revenues by the index and then come around and take a couple million dollars away from you.”
And no help from Harrisburg means program cuts and higher taxes back home.

“I’m very squeezed, yes. It’s just a matter of time before all the districts are squeezed.”

These are not the only districts applying for this exception and just because they get it doesn’t mean it will be used.

Here’s another wrinkle.

The deadline for applying for the exception was before Governor Corbett announced his budget, so that’s really pinching some districts that now have no alternative but to cut staff and programs.

Of course, educators are still hoping the legislature will reject the governor’s education cuts.

RELATED LINKS
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Pennsylvania Department of Education
Highlands School District

Comments

One Comment

  1. Level Green says:

    This is your state government at work.

    Pass a law that limits the amount that a local school district can increase taxes get your face on TV and say how you are sticking up for the little guy to get elected but leave a loop hole and allow everyone to use it. Thank god for property tax reform…nice job Harrisburg.

    14% increase….are you kidding!!!!

    1. Gov Walker (R-WI) says:

      If Corbett ignores the funding needs then the school districts should ignore the mandates.

      See ya in court ole Tommi Boi.

  2. Dan says:

    When are all of the govt agencies going to learn to CUT COSTS!!! This is what us “little people” have to do!

  3. Dan says:

    And they list Highlands as one of the schools needing money. Bet they (or the taxpaying residents) wish they didn’t just spend millions on that football stadium.

  4. Chute Pagaglio says:

    Tom Corbett, Read my lips, NO NEW TAXES. HA , HA, what a laugh. it’s called BACK DOOREN BABY! Are you happy you voted for him now. Just wait, it’s only just begun. They’ll be plenty more BACK DOOR tax increases to come. Remember less Goverment. That means you pay for everything that they cut. Good luck. Hold on to your Wallets.

    1. Dave says:

      How do you come to that insane theory? He had to cut costs so he cut education and now SOME school districts are choosing to raise taxes. That is not Corbett’s doing at all.

      1. Mr. Rupert Supporter says:

        Dave,
        Are you stupid? I’ll answer: YES! Corbett is crushing the educational system because he knows that most school districts will resort to raise taxes-please listen clearly and look at both sides. It is all his doing!

      2. jeeperz says:

        Why cut education when you can enact an extraction tax for Marcellus drilling.

    2. SCHOOL DISTRICT REQUESTING says:

      IT’S NOT CORBETT IT IS THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS REQUESTING TAX INCREASES
      READ ABOVE YOU KNOW THE PART IN THE ARTICLE ABOUT THE (SCHOOL DISTRICT ) REQUESTING A TAX INCREASE ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION
      LET ME SAY IT SLOWER ( CHECK STORY ABOVE ).

      1. hwright says:

        Lol Really did miss the part about the back door that was in there. Your fellow governor Corbett is well aware of it! Republican Politics in action disguise, disguise, disguise to make them LOOK GREAT!!!!

  5. DIANA says:

    Cut the staff and programs.The taxpayers can not afford more money being taken from them. It is about time the teachers get paid only what the tax payers can afford. The teachers need to learn to live like the rest of us and pinch pennies. I would rather feed my kids than pay taxes . They are taking more money than they deserve. Where do the school districts think people will get the extra 14% ?

    1. Mr. Rupert Supporter says:

      DIANA,
      Did you ever go to school? It is the teachers that shape the future because without our educational systems in tact with the sufficient amount of funds, of which MR. IDIOT CORBETT is proposing to remove, are what makes the citizens-they deserve the pay increases.

      1. Zoeyzotron says:

        Mr RUPERT SUPPORTER – Teacher in PA are compensated very very well, they like the rest of us will have to give back.

        See for yourself. their benefits are UNSUSTAINABLE (not to mention Pay)
        http://www.openpagov.org/education_revenue_and_expenses.asp

      2. jeeperz says:

        If teachers have it so easy why doesnt everyone want to do it?

    2. Tman says:

      Diana
      This is about the stupidist response I’ve ever seen. Feed your children but let them be dummies. Did you go to school? Do you think everything in life is free? Are you this stupid?

    3. Green says:

      Diana, have you ever stepped foot into a school building before? Teachers do an unbelievable job with the demanding placed on them daily. Some people wouldnt last one week as a teacher and they dont get paid nearly the amount that they should. Think about it, where would you be today with your teachers?

      1. Zoeyzotron says:

        they are paid VERY WELL. Remember Compensation is defined as WAGE + BENEFITS. also lets not forget that the work year is a 190 days or so…..

        I suggest you wake us. welcome to the recession…

      2. hwright says:

        OH Zoeyzotron SO JUST LET THE GOVERNMENT GET BIGGER AND BIGGER AND HEY WHO CARES WHAT THEY GET PAID HUH? AND THIS WAGE + BENEFITS THING, IS SOMETHING NEW OR JUST WHAT YOUR JEALOUS ABOUT? MAYBE YOU SHOULD BE A TEACHER. YOU HAVE TO BE A POLITICIAN!

      3. sickoftrash says:

        Clearly we know what kind of person would make a statement like Diana just did…uneducated white trash! By the way…its most of us educated people that care about our students and schools that are paying a majority of the taxes anyway!

  6. Sick of South Fayette taxes! says:

    What a joke! South Fayette needs to stop building such elaborate schools! Our taxes are sky high now! How about building a school with desks,chalk boards, lockers and books! You don’t need a castle to teach the kids what they need to learn!

  7. Mr. Rupert Supoprter says:

    To all of the comments listed above: please, listen to what Mr. Rupert is actually proposing. If half of you idiots were actually listening instead of surfing the internet all day because you don’t have real jobs, is that he is in no way for Corbett’s plan- he himself will be directly affected. However, he is in a difficult decision because with the funds be expunged, he will have to raise taxes in order to salvage some funds to continue the educational system at Highlands. Mr. Rupert is proposing an exceptional theory, and people should take the time to actually look at it in depth. Keep up the good work, Mr. Rupert!

  8. jboyu says:

    You do realize that governor Bozo Corbett wants to also destroy public education with vouchers – schools that pick and choose whom ever they want to attend. Yeah, let’s cut programs for kids but while we take almost a million dollars in campaign contributions from the tax-free polluting oil drillers. I was regestered independent, but I’ll do anything to stand up to these evil child hatting d bag republicans.

  9. Dale says:

    Most of you people are just plain stupid or have a agenda you are posting for. Raised taxes are new taxes, if a goverment reduces funding to a school and that school raises tax rates to offset that loss, that is additional taxes. Did the state reduce the tax rate by a equal amount…..no….then that is raising taxes. Who caused the school district to raise taxes, the state, who cut education funding, the governor. If you cannot figure that out then go out and shoot yourself because you are too stupid to live.

    1. 2012 COMMING says:

      YOU SOUND LIKE A VIOLENT PERSON DALE WANTING PERSONS TO SHOOT THEMSELVES DID THEY TEACH YOU THAT IN PUBLIC SCHOOL.
      IF THE SCHOOLS RAISE TAXES IT’S THEIR DECISION AND I WON’T FORGET COME 2012.
      THE SCHOOLS WANT TO BUILD NEW 30 MILLION DOLLAR SCHOOLS THEN CRY WHEN THERE ARE BUDGET CUTS.
      IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT VOTE THEM OUT THAT’S WHAT I DID IN 2010.

    2. hwright says:

      amen…..

      1. hwright says:

        the amen was to Dales comment! 2012 your confused take Dales advice

      2. HCOMMIE says:

        DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO COMMUNIST HWRIGHT

  10. Jack Best says:

    School Districts and school boards are out of control. Period

    1. Daman says:

      So are ignorant, stupid, anti-public school, anti-teacher, anti-union, corrupt, polluting politicians (mostly republicans).

  11. Just a guy says:

    How quickly they want to raise taxes before looking at what expenses can be cut. The monies being shorted are Federal Dollars not State dollars, the disticts were aware of the shortfalls and started new programs, now they want to tax us to continue. Pull out the scissors and start cutting these wastefull programs.

  12. Zoeyzotron says:

    Until the PSEA is willing or forced to drop their CADDY PSERS Retirement program budgets will alsway be a problem.

    Wake up teachers – NO ONE has a retirement like yours. It is UNSUSTAINABLE.

    1. Tory says:

      Retirement issues are only a very small part of the budget problem. Teachers are the most highly educated of all state workers (an additional 24 graduate credits minimum) for permanent cerfification. I doubt you have any idea what the modern teacher has to do and put up with in the classroom. Let’s see in 5 to 10 years if anyone is even willing to go in to this profession with such red neck stupid criticisms of teachers. You had a chance to go to college and be a teacher to if you think it’s a cake job with millionaire benefits.

      1. Luke R says:

        Apparently a teacher, and of course, always right. Your missing the whole point, legecy costs are unsubstainable on the backs of the taxpayers.

    2. hwright says:

      definately a politician

      1. Dave says:

        Because you can’t fight fault in the truth you try to be funny throwing around labels. What zoey said is true and the truth hurts.

    3. jeeperz says:

      As I stated earlier, if teaching is such an easy profession with great perks, why doesnt everyone want to be a teacher?

      1. hwright says:

        stupid kids is what you want so be it cut all funding for schools IT ONLY IMPACTS THE KIDS……….

      2. sickoftrash says:

        Not to mention when you take away from the schools what it does to the community. No one wants to more to an area with poor public schools!

  13. Mike says:

    The idea of the cuts were to force the school districts to become responsible. Just because they requested permission to raise taxes doesn’t mean they will get it. Just like everyone else they need to cut back and live with it. Corbett did the right thing, now lets hope the state sticks to it’s guns.

  14. Drastic actions says:

    Heres an idea to cut costs and prevent increased taxes. Enact a “Pay to Play” for all sports and activities from IM sports to varsity fooball to all clubs and band activities. Add a fee to ride the bus to games/fieldtrips. Offer early retirement to teachers that are close. Lose the voucher program. Cut welfare and take that money save from welfare and put into the schools. No new high schools or especially stadiums/fieldhouses

  15. Old Dawg says:

    What gripes my butt is every time you turn around some teacher’s union is on strike beefing about their wages and benefits. The average salary to start is about 35K-40K, not to mention benefits like few persons see in the working world anymore. The state pension they get is phenominal. Plus, they get their summers off, don’t work nights or weekends, have paid sick days, and vacation too, and unless there is a function or extra-curricular activity they must participate in, no deviation from a Mon. – Fri. schedule. And they get major holidays off, and spring break too. They even get sabbatical leaves they can apply for to take a semester off for travel, or health concerns, or continuing education…….. Really chokes you up and makes you feel bad for them doesn’t it?!

    Now don’t get me wrong, most of them do a very good job at educating the children. But, I have a hard time feeling sorry for anyone that complains, with the package of salary & benefits these folks receive. Actually they should get down on their knees and thank the God that made them for the gifts they receive. They could learn a lesson from all of us in the real world that have had to make concessions regarding raises and benefits over the last few years, and don’t get our summers free to romp around the countryside.

    Remember teachers, you could have it a lot worse! Especially in this economy today. The school districts have just so much money to work with and the government, too. The administrators don’t like to cut back on supplies, wages, etc. but times are tough, and the tax money does not come easy.

    Raise our taxes? HELL NO! Tighten your belts.

    1. hwright says:

      Really buddy step in to the classroom for 1 week. You will not make it! Sorry you are just jealous. You had the same option as everyone else in this country to go to school and become whatever you wanted! Looks like you chose the wrong path. What do you do for a living let me attack what you do I am sure there some fat in there somewhere I want to bring it up!

    2. sickoftrash says:

      Maybe you should go back to school and become a teacher then!

  16. Ouch says:

    Sadly, the schools are in trouble today not because of recent actions by the Governor but because of the actions by school boards over the last 20 years or so and their extravagant spending on stadiums, Taj-Mahal buildings and the belief that the well would never run dry. Basically, too much spending. In addition it’s a lot of unfunded state and federal mandates dumped on local schools with no corresponding funding (or only short term funding) and a lack of public interest in attending board meetings and paying attention to things BEFORE the “s*** hit the fan. Now everyone wants to blame the guy making the tough calls to get things under control. What’s happening here is the shock of finding out what you can really afford and it hitting home. The pretend money is gone and we are all going to suffer. If you ever thought about it now is the time to start going to school board and local government meetings and have your say.

  17. Muntinhead says:

    Cut the size of our state and federal government by 3/4 and then go from there. The biggest waste in this country is our government. After that then cut the waste in our school districts. Money left over, problem solved.

    1. Drastic actions says:

      You can make cuts in the state govt and trim the fat on school districts but why not cut welfare?

  18. hwright says:

    Do me a favor everyone drop what your doing go to college for the next 4 years and take up education. It seems to be the highest paying job out there right now. Seems to be the cakewalk that everybody wants. Once you graduate, thats if you even can , get a job as a Sub to prove yourself in a district. Let them throw spitballs at you and not listen and call you names! Fun huh. Well when you get hired it still happens. But when you do get hired welcome to the teaching world. Have fun with 30 kids on a daily basis. Weekends and nights off huh well when do you think lesson plans are written, homework corrected, parents are called, tests corrected, Oh wait you have more credits you have to take to keep your certification up well when can we throw that in. Oh is it free for teachers to conitinue their education at a college? Uh NO college credits are the same price for everyone. Wait a minute little billys just brought a knife to school and jill is having a seizure you say its soooooooo easy. I wouldn’t do this work if I had it handed to me I like the career I have chosen and I will keep it. I will never ATTACK ANOTHER WORKING AMERICAN IN THIS COUNTRY JUST BECAUSE THE HAVE A BENEFIT AND A PENSION AND A GOOD PAYING JOB! Really people is that how we are??? Greedy? Do we not care how much money is waisted in government? Cars, gas, living expenses, food allowances, teachers do not get these but our politicians do! WAKE UP PEOPLE

  19. alex says:

    You people do not understand,this is double taxation on as. We paid taxes yearly, and because the government is cutting money to schools, we have been taxed from local bureaucrats, everybody is happy, governor did his job by cutting expenses, schools getting money from poor people,we are like cows for them,they milking us every day.

  20. Jennifer says:

    My children go to private school, and believe me when I tell you I’m not wealthy. However, I did graduate with a teaching degree and do not believe funding should be cut as it is proposed to be. Although, I see how a school can function with out all the “extras” that our society has accustomed our children to. At our school, we have to fundraise to get the teachers little things, but our children excel far higher than most children in the public sector on their standardized scores! Education is not about all the “new” and upcoming technologies but more about good teachers bringing it back to basics! I’m not opposed to having smart boards and computers, I’m opposed to the unnecessary items that our schools “think” we need. Like I said, I’m not 100% in agreement with these cuts but some of them absolutely!

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