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Bellwood-Antis decides to opt-out

Pennsylvania school boards have until May 30 to make a decision on the much talked about Act 72 property-tax relief program.
Bellwood-Antis School Board met last night and agreed with many area school districts, choosing to opt-out.
As of yesterday afternoon, 230 of the 501 school districts in Pennsylvania agreed with Bellwood and chose to opt-out, while only 76 opted in.
Boards have until Monday to pass a resolution in order to be eligible for state funded property tax relief.
Governor Rendell signed Act 72 of 2004, The Homeowner Tax Relief Act, on July 5, 2004.
This law was meant to ease the financial burden of home ownership by providing school districts the opportunity to offer lower property taxes to homeowners by implementing an additional earned income and net profits tax or a personal income tax.
Act 72 uses state revenues, in the form of proceeds from a 34 percent tax on profits from expanded gaming, as well as local revenues, in the form of a mandatory 0.1 percent earned income tax, to reduce school property taxes.
The act also allows school districts to increase their 0.1 percent earned income tax and use the revenues from a tax increase to further reduce property taxes. Any increases in this tax must first be approved by a school district\’s voters through questions which will be proposed at the fall election.
In order to receive a reduction in school property taxes, a district must opt-in to Act 72, having a majority of the school board members vote to increase local earned income tax by 0.1 percent. However, residents would not see a reduction in their taxes until at least July 2006. Although, that date will most likely be later, depending upon when enough tax revenue from gambling has been collected by the state. So, depending on the amount of gambling tax revenue the state collects and how fast it accrues, a tax decrease may not be reflected until 2007 or later.
While technically boards do not have to take any action if they do not wish to participate, the list of districts that are voicing their decision to opt out of Act 72 continues to grow.