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Could this be the year that school property taxes disappear? We have been hoping that would be the case for many years to no avail. So is there anything we here in Berks can do about property taxes if it does not happen? Here is one plan "B" idea that could get things started.

The Paradox

When discussing school property tax here in Berks, we are often told what a valuable commodity our children are. While I believe this statement could not be more accurate, I also think our senior citizens are just as valuable of a commodity. We here in Berks want our kids to get the best education possible. We should also want them and the seniors who already live here to stay and use that education to advance our community not move away because of high housing expenses.

Over my 24 years as a Realtor here in Berks I have heard more than my share of high tax stories from seniors.

High property taxes are one of the main reasons our community loses our valuable seniors to other states that have better retirement economics. In many cases, these seniors do not want to move but have little choice.

I am often told there are not enough housing choices here in Berks for seniors who do not want to go into assisted living. At present, there are only a handful of age-restricted communities in our county. In some cases, the property taxes of the homes in these age-restricted communities is as high as the larger homes they are selling. It makes little sense for seniors to sell their home and buy a place that is half the size but has the same property taxes as the house they sold.

The Plan "B" Idea

Age restricted communities have less of an impact on schools, roads, and overall municipal services than non-restricted communities. By reducing the property tax burden, more developers may consider Berks County for their next building project thus creating more choices.

What if Berks created a property tax reduction plan for age-restricted communities? The plan could be like Clean and Green (Act 319) which reduces property taxes 10% if you have ten or more acres or use a majority of your property for agricultural means. How about Act 55+ which would lower all property taxes 50% for people who own homes in an age-restricted community?

Taking Action

Many are hopeful that this is the year our legislators work out a property tax plan that will reduce or, better yet, eliminate property taxes. The trick is to do this without hurting our great teachers and students here in Pennsylvania. At the same time, they need to consider the overall growth economic of our communities and find a way to keep our valuable seniors here at home. It is quite a balancing act.

There are plenty more plan "B" ideas to consider. I will be posting more soon. If you have ideas, please email me at jeffreyhoguerealtor@gmail.com or visit my website at JeffreyHogueRealtor.com and add your thoughts to the BLOG. You can also call your Berks County Commissioners, a local official, or state legislator and let them know your thoughts.

In the case our state legislators do not get tax reform done, we here in Berks County need to consider our situation and take positive and decisive action. As it relates to property taxes, Berks County may be the sickest person in the hospital. You never want to leave your kids or seniors without a remedy!

Knowledge is Power!

Jeffrey C. Hogue