HARRISBURG -PA House Republican Leader, Rep. Bryan Cutler of Lancaster County reacted to a state audit of 12 school districts which sought tax referendum exemptions to increase taxes despite having significant budget surpluses highlights the problems with the current law. The audit uncovered a legal practice where districts are raising local property taxes while holding millions of dollars in their General Funds. PA Auditor General Timothy DeFoor said some startling trends appeared to auditors, like moving money around to make sure a district would always meet the threshold to raise taxes. The PA School Code and the Taxpayer Relief Act dictate how districts can raise taxes and sets limits for those increases. If a district must raise taxes above the limits set in law, they are required to ask voters for permission through referendum or apply to the PA Department of Education for a referendum exception, which allows districts to raise taxes above the inflationary index without voter input. The referendum exception applications are based on what a district has budgeted to cover expenses, versus actual cash on hand. Cutler said the fact that these school districts sought exemptions to raise taxes despite sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars of budget surpluses is wrong. The hard-working families of PA, who are paying extra money to these school districts when they could have reinvested that money into their households, deserve better. One of the districts audited was Penn Manor in Cutler’s district. Two other Lancaster County school districts audited were Hempfield and School District of Lancaster. You can read the full audit by clicking on Rep. Cutler’s photo below.
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