Making our case

Senator Pat Browne
Sen. Pat Browne

Jan. 30, 2015 – A member of the Pa. State Land Tax Fairness Coalition made a big impact on influential state decision-makers on Jan. 29.

State Senator Pat Browne and Acting State Education Secretary Pedro Rivera are among those who have been made aware of our mission.  

Focus was on Austin Area School District in rural Potter County, with about 90 percent of its real estate tax-exempt due to state ownership. School Superintendent Jerry Sasala testified about the inequities during an appearance before the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission in Greenville. It’s comprised of 12 Senators and Representatives, as well as the State Education Secretary, State Budget Secretary and State Deputy Secretary of Administration.

Pedro Rivera
Pedro Rivera

As part of a broader package to improve state funding for education, Superintendent Sasala called on the legislature to increase the in-lieu-of-taxes payments on state-owned land, and provide a cut of the revenue the state derives from gas/oil leases and timber sales for counties, school districts and municipalities.

"Our school district is severely stressed by the high proportion of real estate that is owned by the state and is thus tax-exempt,” Sasala will tell the commission. “By law, school districts, municipalities and county governments depend on the real estate tax for the bulk of their necessary operating revenue. The system is unfair, since property owners face a burden that is clearly disproportional and unfair.”