House committee releases property tax reform recommendations
State Rep. Justin Simmons, R-131st, announced Nov. 30 the House Select Committee on Property Tax Reform has unanimously approved its final report, which includes recommendations to be considered by the House of Representatives.
Simmons was one of 13 House members from both parties who were appointed to the committee last June and charged with investigating all aspects of the issue, including municipal, county and school property taxes and releasing a final report by Nov. 30.
"Property tax reform is the number one issue in many areas of our state, including the Lehigh Valley," Simmons said. "During the committee's careful examination of this very complex issue, we heard from numerous tax experts and sponsors of the various pieces of property tax reform legislation that were introduced during the just concluded session. We have tried to come up with recommendations that will garner broad-based support in the General Assembly."
The committee's recommendations include:
Introducing a resolution at the start of the 2013-14 legislative session to re-establish the select committee.
· Reintroducing legislation that amends the Pennsylvania Constitution to provide for a homestead and farmstead exemption of up to 100 percent of the property value.
· Developing legislation to grant local taxing jurisdictions more diversified taxing options that allow revenue-neutral tax shifts in the collection of local revenues.
· Directing an independent entity or entities to study the fiscal impact of property tax relief up to and including property tax elimination at various levels of income.
· Developing a guide for local governments for the streamlining and more efficient administration of all aspects of the property tax system.
· Studying the actual and potential incentives for local governmental entities to enter into consolidation or intergovernmental cooperation agreements for the provision of services and administrative functions.
· Reviewing all state-imposed public education requirements not mandated by federal statute or regulation for cost-effectiveness, fairness and/or educational value.
· Amending the Right-to-Know Law to allow public agencies to recoup the actual costs of responding to Right-to-Know requests.
· Enabling local governments to make the most effective use of the tax and municipal debt collection tools currently provided, thereby increasing local revenues and promoting greater tax fairness.
· Developing a guide for local taxing authorities engaged in debt collection, including but not limited to collections through third-party contracts.
· Developing recommendations for achieving efficiencies and increasing cost effectiveness in the construction, maintenance, renovation and disposition of public buildings and school facilities, helping to ensure that students have access to adequate facilities.
· Developing a new funding formula for special education based on the actual costs of providing special education instruction and services.
· Directing an independent entity or entities to determine the actual costs of educating a student at a charter school and at a cyber-charter school, and the effects on local school budgets and property taxes.
"Our report and its recommendations are intended to be a roadmap for change," Simmons said. "There is still much work to do. I am hopeful that important work will continue in the upcoming session."
The House Select Committee on Property Tax Reform's final report will be available for viewing in the coming days at www.RepSimmons.com.