Grove Unveils Property Tax Elimination Plan
3/7/2012
SPRING GROVE – In front of a crowd of senior citizens, advocates for good government and local officials, Rep. Seth Grove (R-Dover) unveiled his plan to eliminate property taxes in the Commonwealth, allowing senior citizens to stay in their homes and communities to control how public school districts and local government services are funded.

“Just about every day, someone contacts me about their property taxes,” said Grove. “The hardest stories to hear are those of senior citizens who fear losing their homes if they can no longer afford to pay. It is heart wrenching to hear about elderly couples who have spent the better part of their lives building a family and home, only to be forced out when annual property tax increases make owning their home unaffordable.”

Dianna Benaknin of the York County Area Agency on Aging spoke about the cost benefit of senior citizens remaining in their homes, rather than in long-term care facilities. She addressed the societal costs of caring for older Pennsylvanians in nursing homes, which far outweighs the expense of home-based care.

Grove detailed the property tax problems facing communities in the Commonwealth, including many in York County, contrasting them with areas of the state where property taxes have remained stable for decades. He pointed to this disparity as a major barrier to passing statewide property tax reform.

Rather than a one-size-fits-all solution, Grove’s House Bill 2230 proposes to allow counties, through voter referendum, to enact a 1 percent county-level sales tax to reduce school property tax millage rates.

The legislation would also allow local taxing authorities to levy a local income tax, with the option of a Personal Income Tax (PIT) or an Earned Income Tax (EIT). The revenue collected would offset a reduction in property taxes by at least 30 percent, depending on the tax rate. Local taxing authorities could opt to completely eliminate property taxes under the plan.

Grove’s proposal includes inflationary guidelines on tax increases for municipalities, public school districts and counties, which would be compelled to freeze property taxes if they opt to enact a tax shift. School districts would be subject to Act 1 inflationary index requirements and exceptions.

Last year, Grove led the effort to reduce the number of exceptions by which school districts may raise property taxes above the inflationary index from 10 to three. Under the new law Grove helped to craft, the Department of Education finally has guidelines by which to judge requests for exceptions.

Grove highlighted the plight of growing school districts, which do not receive a proportional share of state education dollars. He underscored how past property tax elimination proposals would send every dollar of state education revenue to Harrisburg to be allocated using Pennsylvania’s broken school funding formula. This formula contains a hold-harmless clause, which allows those school districts with declining student enrollment to maintain state funding levels.

“If you think York County and other growing areas are getting the short end of the stick now, imagine if there was absolutely no local say in how much money each school district received,” said Grove. “I believe certain decisions should be made at the local level, and how education is funded is a very important community choice. The only way to achieve a change in our system is to allow it to happen at a local level. I believe House Bill 2230 will be effective, precise and plausible for addressing Pennsylvania’s property tax crisis.”

Grove unveiled House Bill 2230 at Roths Farm Village Condominiums, which is a 55-plus condo community located adjacent to the Spring Grove School District campus.

He was flanked by residents of the community, members of the York County Republican House delegation, York and Lancaster county commissioners, and property tax elimination advocates.

“The reason past property tax elimination plans have failed is because not every area of the state has experienced the ballooning property taxes we have seen in York County,” said Grove. “The members representing areas with no property tax problem have a vested interest in the status quo, which has made significant statewide reform nearly impossible. My plan would allow those areas where residents do not have a problem with the property tax system to keep it in place, while allowing regions where property taxes are considered problematic to move to another funding system.”

More information about Grove and his legislative priorities is available at RepGrove.com or Facebook.com/RepSethGrove.

State Representative Seth Grove
196th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Nicole Wamsley
nwamsley@pahousegop.com
717.783.8063
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