As a business owner in the State College Area School District, I urge all voters to vote against the referendum to fund the renovation planned for the high school.
If approved, the renovation would add 2.5 to 2.7 mills to the real estate tax base for the next 30 years.
And the district can (and will) impose additional annual tax increases over the same period to fund its annual operational expenses.
Although Act 1 (the Taxpayer Relief Act) limits annual tax increases, the limit varies.
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For 2014-15, the cap is 2.1 percent (SCASD proposes a 1.9 percent increase, slightly below the rate cap).
In the past nine years, however, the limit ranged from 1.4 percent to 4.4 percent, with an average of 2.8 percent. What is the future for rate caps? Will the district tax to the limit?
So why does State College need this project, particularly when school enrollment is stagnant?
Arguments for the plan seem to fall into four categories: building age (60 years), failure to meet current codes, flooding and safety.
Is the only solution to these issues a major rebuild of the existing school? Can solutions to the school’s problems be implemented incrementally and prevent the need for massive debt?
In the past several years, millions have been spent on this renovation plan; millions that could have been used to correct many of the aforementioned problems.
Taxpayers need to recognize that buildings do not educate and that tax resources are not infinite.