Pennsylvania may have the most dysfunctional state governments in history, and everyone who owns a home here will pay for it. We need Property Tax Reform!
So much has already been said about property taxes in Pennsylvania and Berks County that I find it hard to add anything substantial but I will give it a try.
This past Tuesday our state Senators congregated at the state capital to vote on several pieces of legislation. Of interest was an amendment known as House Bill 683 PN 1427 A4499~ ARGALL AMENDMENT NO. A-4499. This was an amendment to the now popular SB76 known as the “Property Tax Independence Bill” That has such a nice ring, doesn’t it?
In short, it was all about property tax reform. This is something Berks County homeowners have dreamed about since the 1830’s. Unfortunately, we can all keep dreaming as the amendment was voted down 25 to 24 with one abstention. Visit my website at JeffreyHogueRealtor.com to see how our state Senators voted on the amendment. Don’t be shy and pick up the phone to let them know how you feel.
So where does this leave us? It is obvious that our state government has larger problems than property taxes. In an article recently written by Forbes contributor, Patrick Gleason, he stated, “Pennsylvania is one of only two states in the country that has yet to pass a budget this year. The other state without a budget is Illinois, which isn’t good company to be in since Illinois is home to one of the nation’s most dysfunctional state governments.”
Unfortunately, While most states rely on property taxes to fund schools, Pennsylvania is among the worst offenders in how it distributes tax dollars to our educational institutions; it has, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the “single most inequitable system of allocating education dollars in the nation.” It is a matter of inequality caused by a questionable system.
Yes, there is much to do in Harrisburg but that is another story. This story is about disastrously high property taxes in Berks County.
Berks County has some of the best school districts in the state. There is a vast resource of teaching talent here. These teachers have been promised pensions, and they deserve them. The unfortunate part is that Pennsylvania has greatly mishandled pension dollars. There are billions in unfunded pensions in our state.
Teachers are often unfairly put in the middle of these discussions, and that’s not good for any community. Maybe we need to consider the people we are voting for.
As the school tax millages climb the property taxes rise to undesirable and unaffordable levels. This tends to povertize the area. Who wants to build an expensive home or make improvements to their existing property when they have to consider the tax premium they may pay for years. I remember when people looking to buy a home in Berks County asked what school district it was in first. Now they ask what the taxes are.
Berks County home values have lagged those of its neighbors for years. As other surrounding Counties start to nose up from the lows of the 2008 housing bust, Berks never seems to get out of the muck. It is understandable when you consider the following; Every additional $5 per month in property taxes equals approximately $1,000 in property value. If your property taxes go up $25 per month, you may have lost $5,000 of home value. Even the outlook of property taxes creeping higher is a drag on future property value.
Lower property taxes would, in my opinion, be the start of the road back for Berks County. We are that close!
I want to give a special shout out to Senator David Argall, who is the sponsor of SB 76 and the Argall Amendment. Along with Senator Argall, a tip of the hat to Senator Judy Schwank of Berks County. They have worked tirelessly on the issue of property tax reform. Do not waiver! I don’t think Abraham Lincoln himself could have gotten the amendment passed in this Congress. And remember, Abe lost his senatorial race in Illinois but gained the white house several years later. We will also prevail!
Knowledge is Power!
Jeffrey C. Hogue
SENATE ROLL CALL ~ Vote Results: House Bill 683 PN 1427 A4499~ ARGALL AMENDMENT NO. A-4499
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