State College

State College Area School District weighs tax relief program

If the State College Area School board approves a tax relief program for eligible district taxpayers, money used will need to be reallocated within the district’s budget.

“We’ll have to move some things around,” district business manager Randy Brown told the Centre Daily Times.

The hope is to make a decision on the program by the end of April so it could be weighed into the 2015-16 budget, Brown said.

If passed, the board would then reauthorize the program and amount each year.

Board members proposed the program last year after they heard resident concerns about the tax increase associated with the State High project slated to start this summer.

The 2015-16 preliminary budget calls for a 5.7 percent tax increase — an increase of about $160 for the average homeowner, Brown said.

In October, a study was done that resulted in the possibilities of a rebate program or an exchange program.

A rebate program was suggested by Brown and the majority of board members earlier in the month after an ad hoc committee was formed to oversee the tax relief program.

At a board meeting Monday night, Brown detailed a rebate program consisting of $200,000 that would be distributed to eligible taxpayers, up to $650, and rollout as soon as July 1.

In the proposal, eligible residents must be 65 or older as of Dec. 31, 2014; a widow or widower during all or part of 2014 and 50 or older as of Dec. 31, 2014; and permanently disabled and 18 or older during all or part of 2014.

Residents also must have had an annual combined income of $35,000 or less in 2014, and have been awarded a rebate for a homestead/farmstead exclusion within the district.

Brown added that it would be on a “first come, first served” basis.

At Monday’s meeting, Brown also debriefed the board on Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget that could put more money back into public schools.

Brown said the district estimates about $826,000 would be given by the state that would likely go into a capital project fund.

“That’s where we would focus those resources at this time,” Brown said.