Letters to the Editor

Letter to the editor: More tax relief needed in State College Area School District

Pennsylvania already provides $200 to $650 property tax rebates for homeowners and renters. Taxpayers over age 65 (age 50 with certain exceptions) and household income less than $35,000 ($15,000 for renters) qualify. (Half of Social Security payments — about $13,000) are omitted from income determination.

The State College Area School District now proposes another $200 to $650 property tax rebate for homestead/farmstead property owners modeled on criteria for a similar state rebate program. Renters are excluded.

The district’s program requires “volunteer” menial labor at the rate of $5 per hour to “earn” the rebate. About 15 (among 500) districts have a similar program; only two require servitude.

The intent is to help a special class of seniors cope with the onerous SCASD property tax.

Here is the problem: As much as that senior tax class needs the rebate, so do many others regardless of age but earning modest incomes surrounded by affluence.

The administration says it “found” $300,000 in the budget to fund the program by “moving things around.” I can find another $100,000 by using a retiree instead of a press secretary to write the district’s news releases.

Then add the unbudgeted $826,000 anticipated payment from the state’s share for local education. “Move more things around” and reduce taxes for all.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan persuasively agrees — the Pennsylvania school property tax system is the worst in the nation with respect to equal funding for all students. It is also among the most regressive and confiscatory.

Don Gordon

Patton Township