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Deadline for filling tax study group extended

September 01, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Area School District is still looking for district residents to serve on a tax study commission, extending the deadline to Sept. 6 in hopes of getting a broader representation of the community.

"We have 10 applicants for the tax commission so far, eight of them are senior citizens. We definitely need more people," Superintendent Joseph Padasak said Wednesday. "We're supposed to have a cross-section of the community."

The tax study commission is mandated by Act 1, Pennsylvania's latest version of school property tax reform signed into law earlier this year. Commissions composed of five, seven or nine members of the community are to be named by Sept. 14 and make recommendations on restructuring school taxes by Dec. 13.

The commission would also draft the language for a referendum question to be placed on the May 2007 primary ballot. If the referendum is approved, the measures would go into effect July 1, 2007.

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The original deadline set by the board for applications was Aug. 22, but Padasak said applicants have until noon on Wednesday, Sept. 6. The board plans to name the commission members at its meeting that night, he said.

The language of Act 1 allows only one board member to serve on the commission and requires that it reflect the "social, economic, age and occupation diversity of the school district to the extent possible."

That may include various income levels, business owners, retirees, homeowners, renters and farmers, among others.

"It's a tax shift from real estate to income," Padasak said of the intent of Act 1. A tax study commission would be able to recommend shifting some of the cost of local financing for schools from property taxes to either a higher earned income tax or a personal income tax, he said.

The current earned income tax for school districts that did not adopt Act 72, the previous tax reform plan, is .5 percent. Padasak said Act 1 would allow that figure to be raised to 1.5 percent while property taxes would be lowered.

A personal income tax, which would tax investment income as well as payrolls, would "cast a wider net," he said. An Act 72 study for the Windber (Pa.) Area School District, where Padasak previously served as superintendent, indicated a personal income tax could bring in 20 percent more revenues than an earned income tax, he said.

The commission would likely need to meet two or more times a month during the 90-day study period. A consulting firm will be hired to assist the commission, he said.

Along with asking for applicants, board members can also recruit members for the commission, Padasak said.

Expression of Interest forms are available on the district's Web site at www.chambersburg.k12.pa.us, or by calling 717-263-9281. Completed forms should be sent to: Chambersburg Area School District, Attn: Rick Vensel, Business Manager/Board Secretary, 435 Stanley Ave., Chambersburg, Pa. 17201.

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