The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Letters

May 30, 2014

Milton school taxes

Once again the increase in the Milton Area School District’s 2014-15 budget falls squarely on the White Deer Township (WTP) residences. While Northumberland County property owners enjoyed a 2.5 percent decrease, the WTP property owners were slammed with a 4.4 percent increase. This 6.9 percent difference is huge and begs the question what were the factors that created this inequity. In addition the Act 1 Adjusted Index for Milton 2014-15 is 2.9 percent, Base 2.1 percent. It is interesting to note the Milton Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. Is this not illegal or is this one of those loopholes that allow for this inequity?

There are a number of issues present that need to be rectified. First of all the Milton school district left little or no time for the taxpayers to research the cause of these discrepancies. Several years ago the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) made a huge error in its calculations that initially indicated the WTP taxes were going up 20-plus percent.

With a lot of work from five individuals and their state senators and sepresentatives it was determined STEB’s calculations statewide were way out of line due to a computer error. However, the board indicated a huge increase was in the making early in March allowing time to research and correct this error.

Here we are late in May with only four weeks to go before the budget must be finalized and sent to the state. The board should have been professional enough to notify the residents in the WTP earlier in the process to allow for more time to determine where the error is coming from.

Northumberland County has been derelict in its responsibilities to maintain an updated assessment of the property values. While most counties reassess every five to 10 years Northumberland County has not reassessed in 42 years! As a result, disproportional higher property taxes are levied on the surrounding counties. The Warrior Run School District saw exactly the same tax structure as Milton. Those taxpayers in Montour County saw a huge 12-plus percent increase while taxpayers in Gregg Township saw a 4-plus percent increase.

This whole issue with property taxes is rife with state and local gross incompetence. Every time you try to correct a problem you run into a wall where the governing officials don’t want to do their job.

The only real answer is to abolish property taxes and use an alternative form of taxation where everyone pays their fair share. In the meantime, the county commissioners that surround northern Northumberland County need to come to our aid as well as our state senators and sepresentatives.

Randy Straub,

New Columbia

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