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Waynesboro residents to get a lesson in Act 1, tax relief

November 15, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Act 1 mandated tax commission for the Waynesboro Area School District will host a public hearing Thursday to discuss a potential shift in taxes.

The tax commission will give a presentation to the public explaining what Act 1 requires on the ballot in May's primary election and how it affects residents, schools business manager Caroline Dean said.

Signed into law in June 2006 by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Act 1 came with promises of property tax relief offset by a combination of state gaming revenue and a shift to income-based tax revenue. For the first time in state history, Act 1 caps the amount by which school districts can raise property taxes without court, state or voter approval.

To determine if or how school districts will shift taxes, Act 1 requires each school district appoint a tax commission, approve a referendum and place it on the ballot next spring.

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In September, the Waynesboro Area School Board appointed a group of seven local community members to the commission. The tax commission was given 90 days to review local tax policy and make a recommendation of if or how the school district should shift away from property taxes and rely on either earned income taxes or personal income taxes.

The law provides a caution that the commission's recommendation is non-binding and that the school board has the ability to reject it and draft a completely different referendum.

Act 1 requires the tax commission hold a public hearing and the panel scheduled its hearing for 7 p.m. on Thursday in the auditorium of the Waynesboro Area Middle School.

Dean said the tax commission will take into consideration any public comments or questions raised at the hearing before making its final recommendation to the school board in early December.

Regardless of what the tax commission or the school board decides, voters have the final say, superintendent Barry Dallara said.

Dean said Act 1 mandates the voter decision stand for two years, before giving school districts the chance of reconvening the tax commission and placing another referendum on the ballot.




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The issue: Act 1 mandates that Pennsylvania school districts appoint local tax study commissions to recommend how school boards should shift taxes away from property taxes, either by increasing the earned income tax paid by wage earners, or creating a broader personal income tax, which also taxes some investment income.

What's new: The tax study commission for the Waynesboro Area School District has met four times to examine the district's tax structure to determine how much property taxes should be reduced and local income taxes increased.

What's next: The commission will host a public hearing on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Waynesboro Area Middle School auditorium. The panel has until Dec. 13 to make its recommendations to the school boards, which can accept the plans or craft its own property tax relief proposals for voters to consider in the May 2007 primary.

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