Tyrone Area seeking volunteers for mandated tax study commission

Last week, the Tyrone Area School Board voted to seek volunteers for a tax study commission as part of the mandated implementation of a new tax law enacted by the state.
Now the district is officially asking for community volunteers to serve on the independent study commission. Starting today, the district is placing advertising in The Herald to seek volunteers.
The board took the action as part of a series of steps to develop a referendum question to allow voters to decide if they want to further reduce property taxes by switching a portion of the local property tax to a local income tax. The move is just one of several steps the district must work through as a result of the Act 1 law passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor earlier this year.
Property taxes are already earmarked to be reduced for homeowners in the state through money expected to be generated by slot machine gambling.
Information on a state web site about the issue (www.papropertytaxrelief.com) noted school boards can choose to not to accept state-funded tax relief for homeowners. Under a previous law, Act 72, only about 20 percent of the state’s school districts agreed to accept the property tax relief.
The information explained under the new law the decision can be made to accept the money just before the distribution of funds. However, if a district opts out of accepting the slots-generated money, the issue will have to be placed on the ballot in that district to allow voters to either accept or reject the board’s decision.
The new law requires Tyrone and other districts to appoint the tax study commission by Sept. 14. The commission is to be comprised of between five, seven or nine members and is to include residents or taxpayers in the district that reflect the socioeconomic, age and occupational diversity of the district. Only one school board member can serve on the board and no school employees, officials or relatives of the district can be on the commission.
According to business administrator Cathy Peachey, the district decided to seek volunteers through advertising and if necessary may also seek volunteers through invitation.
Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Peachey by phone at 684-0710 ext. 4120 or by mail at the Tyrone Area School District, 701 Clay Ave., Tyrone, PA 16686 by Aug. 28 to request an application.
Following the appointment of members, the tax study commission will have until Dec. 13 to present nonbinding recommendations to the school board for consideration.
By Feb. 26, 2007, the district will have to begin advertising its intent to adopt a resolution regarding allowing voters the option of approving further property tax relief through a referendum. The school is required to adopt a resolution authorizing a referendum question by March 13, 2007.
The referendum question is expected to be on the ballot in next spring’s primary election. Voters will be given an option to increase the Earned Income Tax (EIT) or convert to a Personal Income Tax (PIT) to generate revenue to cut property taxes. The additional amount of property tax relief will be between half of the maximum homestead exclusion (the formula in place for slots-based property tax relief) and the full maximum exclusion allowed, but it does not have to be more than a one percent EIT increase. The state’s tax relief web site noted “this provision does not apply to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Scranton because their wage tax rates are already so high, increasing them even more will further deteriorate the economies of those communities.”
The additional relief could take effect as early as July of next year.
If voters reject an EIT increase or a conversion to a PIT then there would be no additional property tax relief at the point. However, according to the state’s tax relief web site, school boards can also give voters (with the exception of Philadelphia) the choice of further reducing property taxes in the 2009 municipal election or any municipal election after that.