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Patch Poll: Should the State Do Away with Act 1 Exceptions?

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe wants to eliminate exceptions that would allow school districts to raise property taxes beyond the state inflationary index. Do you agree or disagree?

In his for permission to raise property taxes, State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, said he's like to eliminate all exceptions include in Act 1.

“The only solution to protect taxpayers is to eliminate all exceptions included in Act 1, thus allowing for true voter referendum on all tax increases above the index,” he said.

Metcalfe is referring to the value was assigned to school districts through the Pennsylvania Department of Education in compliance with Act 1, also known as the Taxpayer Relief Act.

The act limits increases unless the district obtains certain exceptions or if voters, in a referendum, approve a tax increase.

In the face of a proposed preliminary budget that for the 2012-13 school year, Seneca Valley is asking the state for special exceptions under Act. 1. This would permit the district to increase property taxes greater than the inflationary index.

For Seneca Valley, the index under Act 1 is set at 2 percent, or 2.11 mills of tax.

Although the action would give it the option of raising taxes beyond the index, it does not mean district officials plan to do so. It also gives the district permission to ask taxpayers to approve an increase by a referendum vote in the primary election.

The deadline to apply to the state for the exceptions, which requires districts to have a proposed preliminary budget available for the public's inspection, is Feb. 9. School district officials are not required to approve a budget until June.

We want to know what Cranberry Patch readers think. Do you agree with Metcalfe that exceptions under Act 1 should be eliminated and that the public only should approve any tax increases greater than the inflationary index, or might that result in a mess for district finances? Leave your thoughts in the comment section, or answer our Patch Poll.

Mike Jones January 25, 2012 at 04:45 PM
YES YES YES!!!! My school district (South Fayette) has increased taxes four times in five years (three of those over the inflationary rate). They need to be brought under control.
Maddie January 26, 2012 at 04:52 PM
What's more important than our kids? Greedy, greedy, greedy! Everyone's so caught up in themselves. What about making sure our children and our teachers are taken care of? Education should be the LAST thing this country skimps on!
John January 30, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Maddie, do you really think that a superintendent should make $100,000 plus a year? Why not a more reasonable salary, similar to what teachers make? Say, $50,000 to $60,000 a year. Why must school districts purchase $50,000 worth of sports equipment (I am not referring to safety equipment for rougher sports) from Joe Bobs sports company, when they could purchase the same equipment from, say, WalMart, for $15,000. There is no reason that we, as taxpayers, should be forced to do more with less, and our school districts should not be forced to do the same. I agree with all of my heart that our children are the future, and that they should receive a quality education. I agree with all of my heart that teachers should be paid well for what they do. But, our education system in this country is broken, and throwing more and more money at it will not solve the problem. School districts all across this country waste billions of dollars every year, on failed curriculum, sweetheart deals with friends for equipment, programs like "new math" that fall under the category of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", and I could honestly go on. Seneca Valley is not immune to this by the way. We, as taxpayers should NOT be blind sheep, and simply agree to just give away our hard earned money! We, as taxpayers should be REQUIRING our school districts to be accountable for every penny they spend, and if they do not spend that money wisely, well, why should they be rewarded with more?
Maddie February 02, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I think teachers should be making $200,000 and superindents should be making $300,000! Why not?? It's true, education needs a huge overhaul in America and Teachers' unions are widely to blame. If Education were put first and foremost in our society, we would see a DRAMATIC decrease in homelessness, the need for public assistance, drug abuse, domestic violence, and all the other problems that tend to stem from ignorance and the cycle of dysfunction that keeps perpetuating itself without solution in this country. What is the solution? EDUCATION. Not the educational system that is in place now, but a new and better system that is perhaps privatized or made better somehow. Wouldn't it be great if becoming a teacher held the same prestige as becoming a lawyer or doctor? That is what we need in this country, real ecucational programs, producing real results, with talented, SMART people leading the way! I am so sick of people whining about taxes, we're all in this boat together, people! All of us, black white, brown, purple, and blue. We need to take care of eachother, or else we all FAIL!
Mike Jones February 02, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Maddie... I'm a big proponent of public education and think we should pay teachers every penny they're worth. But I suggest you drive down to South Fayette and look at the college campus they built there. Are buildings important? Absolutely. But I don't think they need to have marble pillars greeting the high school students. And they definitely don't need a football stadium that Robert Morris and W&J would be jealous of.
Maddie February 03, 2012 at 06:42 AM
I think we all can agree that high school students are not in need of marble pillars! That is also another component of all of this that I take issue with. Some school districts are incredibly wealthy and well funded while others are barely able to provide their students with paper or even desks! If every child had a fair start, or a solid jumping off point, I think our country could really start to make some positive strides as a whole. Instead of fancy pillars or state of the art sporting facilities, let's look into who's coming to school without having had dinner the night before or breakfast that morning, or who is a victim of abuse or neglect. The flaunting of wealth or status in a public school setting seems highly irresponsible to me. I'm not in favor of needless frivolity. However, if my taxes are going towards helping our area's children succeed, then by all means!
Larry Duncan February 06, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Maddie, SV already spends 20% more than the national average. Currently as a nation we spend a trillion dollars a year on education Quadrupling salaries as you suggest would result in 2/3 of all Federal, State and Local Government Spending would be spent on Education. Currently Federal, State and Local Taxes take 30% of your Income.If you want to maintain current levels of Social Security,Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare and veterans benefits,etc. you would have to increase the tax level to 45%. Since 1991 the average cost per year per student, in adjusted Dollars has gone up 32% over inflation but the average reading score has fallen from 292 to 288. The United States spends a higher percent of its' government spending on Education than Finland whose 15 year olds place #1 in recent tests
Maddie February 06, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Larry, it seems to me that you didn't read my entire post. I'm not suggesting that we as tax payers should foot the bill for inflated salaries. What I'm suggesting is that education is the basis for any strong, viable society. Our country is in need of a renaissance of sorts where our educational system is revamped entirely. Obviously this is the case if the statistics you quoted are indeed fact. What is impeding our nation's progress is the continued cycle of ignorance, abuse, neglect, and even poor nutrition, just to name a few of the issues. Teachers and school officials can only do so much. The foundation for emotional, physical, and intellectual nourishment starts at home. The problem is is that we see the same level of need for public assistance, drug abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, etc, etc, continue on and on and generation after generation. We, as a society, need to dig deep and pull the weed out by the roots, not just spray it a few times and hope it will eventually die and go away. Look, I personally can not afford to give half my paycheck to school taxes, not many people can! I'm not even saying that throwing money at the problem will make it go away, it won't! What I'm saying is that we need to find some effective solutions instead of constantly complaing about taxes. I feel like if people put as much passionate effort into helping our kids as they did in screaming and crying about paying our country's membership dues, we would be #1 always!
Larry Duncan February 07, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I'm sorry if I misinterpreted your comments. Every time I perceive people are saying we need to spend more money on education I get upset. On average it costs the taxpayers $140,000 per high school graduate. And it cost them another $15,000 per year for 5 or 6 years to get college graduate. The average salary for a high school graduate is $29,000, for a college graduate it is $45,000. 10% of their taxes go to Social Security and Medicare. So at a 20%tax rate, the high school graduate will have to work 24 years to generate enough taxes to pay for their education and the college graduate will have to work 26 years. I do not think that these costs are sustainable. I am for public education. I had two aunts and two uncles that were teachers; my brother, sister and brother-in-law were in education and I have two daughters and two son-in-laws who are teachers. But it is clear to me we need to find a way to make education more efficient.
Larry Duncan February 07, 2012 at 12:41 PM
I agree with you that the problem goes deeper than just our education system. With 40% of our children born to single mothers, 30% of our children living in single parent homes and at least 20% of our children living in poverty we are fighting an up hill battle. In 2009 there were 72 million people living in poverty before government transfers. Of the 18.5 million people over 65 15 million (81%) were raised above the poverty level primary by Social Security. By contrast only 2.5 million(16%) of the 15.5 million single parents and children were raised above the poverty level. In that year we spend $636 billion dollars on welfare, not including Medicaid, if it had be distributed just to those below the poverty level instead of including "low-income" people it would have been enough to raise them all above the poverty level.

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