News Column

Susquenita School Board adopts budget, hikes Reed Twp. taxes by 16%

June 11, 2014

By Eric Veronikis, The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.



June 11--DUNCANNON -- The Susquenita School Board approved a $29.4 million 2014-15 budget Tuesday night that holds the line on taxes for Perry County residents, but increases real estate taxes on residents who live in Reed Township in Dauphin County by 16 percent.

The district primarily serves students from several Perry County municipalities. But a minority of the student population lives in Reed Township.

The board adopted the budget with a 5-4 vote. Brenda Myers, Christopher Albright, Donald Kauffman, Bryon Eppley and Phillip Lehman voted for the budget. Robert Staver, Heather Audet, Robert Finnen and Michael Jones cast the four dissenting votes.

The millage rate will remain 12.200 mills, which means residents with properties valued at $100,000 will pay $1,220 in real estate taxes next year.

Residents who live in Reed Township will see their millage rate increase from 19.532 to 22.664, which equals roughly a 16 percent hike.

This means Reed Township residents with properties valued at $100,000 will pay $2,266 in real estate taxes, $313 more than the township's residents paid this year.

One resident said the school board violated the state's Act 1 Index, which limits a district's ability to raise taxes above a certain threshold, by increasing taxes by 16 percent for Reed Township residents. That threshold is 2.8 percent, unless the district seeks an exemption.

However, Superintendent Kent Smith said the district's solicitor has assured him that the 16 percent tax increase is legal and necessary based on real estate assessments in Reed Township. An administrator indicated that the tax increase for Reed Township may have been based on what may be faulty real estate tax assessment values from Dauphin County. The numbers can't be changed based on the pre-determined assessed market value,

One school board member suggested the issue be appealed to the state. Still, the board adopted the budget ahead of finding out whether its assessment numbers are inaccurate in Reed Township because per state law, it must adopt its budget for next year by the end of June. The board could have scheduled another meeting between now and the end of the month to cast the final vote, however.

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(c)2014 The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.)

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Source: Patriot-News (Harrisburg, PA)


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