Harrisburg, PA – In the presence of more than 100 hard-working taxpayers from across Pennsylvania, Rep. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) today participated in a property tax rally at the state Capitol to urge the enactment of the Property Tax Independence Act, which would restore the right of Pennsylvanians to truly own their homes by replacing the burdensome and outdated school property tax system.
“No tax should have the power to leave you homeless,” said Scavello. “Monroe County’s school districts cannot continue to raise taxes, and the language of House Bill 1776 provides avenues to correct this unfairness.”
Five years ago, a Monroe County homeowner could build a brand new home for about $250,000. That same home today is only worth about $150,000, with property taxes estimated at $11,000 per year, said Scavello. Skyrocketing property taxes have resulted in nearly 3,000 vacant homes in Monroe County.
“Because Monroe County has grown rapidly, the residents have taken the brunt of increasing property taxes. The growth that has occurred in Monroe County freezes in a moment of time with 20-years-old U.S. Census information that is used to fund the county’s school districts,” said Scavello. “Now is the time to realize that funding schools cannot lie on the backs of our hardworking taxpayers.”
Property owner, Patrick Briegel of the Monroe County Taxpayer Coalition, said Monroe County’s homes are exorbitant and the state’s property tax structure is flawed.
“In Monroe County, we pay some of the highest property tax rates, as a percentage of property value, in the entire country. It wasn’t always this way. Taxes have more than doubled in the last dozen years because our outdated tax code unfairly punishes growth areas like ours, where most of the burden falls on the local property taxpayer, and the state contributes a smaller share toward school funding,” said Briegel.
As an advocate for adequate school funding and property tax elimination, Scavello and Rep. Rosemary M. Brown (R-Pike/Monroe) have recently reined in support from other state lawmakers from fast-growing counties to soon file a lawsuit to overturn the state’s education funding formula that has penalized Monroe County’s fast-growing school districts, along with several others, for the past two decades.
Fast-growing school districts across the state rank at or near the bottom in per-pupil aid statewide because a 1991 “hold harmless” provision guarantees no district in the state will ever receive less total funding, even if its student population declines.
“I am optimistic that a victorious outcome for our state lawsuit would help advance House Bill 1776 through the General Assembly. If the hold harmless provision is revoked by the courts, the majority of state representatives in slow-growing districts that have gained through the current education funding system will lose those dollars they’ve received based on outdated census numbers. That means they’ll finally have to look for other options to fund public education, such as those listed under House Bill 1776,” said Scavello.
For more information regarding House Bill 1776 or Scavello’s lawsuit against the state, including video clips and details on the property tax legislation, visit his website at RepScavello.com.