Our 2012 property tax notice for the Warren County School District increased 2 mills over 2011. No doubt the rest of the Warren County property owners noted this increase as well.
In an effort to better understand why such an increase was made, I called the School District Office and was advised by the Business Administrator that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Education, has the discretionary power to establish an annual index that is communicated to our state's school districts as a "permissible" increase in the property tax millage. For 2012, this index was 2.5%, yielding 1.294 millage increase. But our millage increased 2 mills to 50.9658 mills. It turns out that the additional .7818 mills was permitted under an "emergency exception" guideline that the PA Department of Education can declare. They did so for 2012. The emergency that existed was underfunding of the PA State Retirement Fund.
All this occurs at a time when it seems the Warren County School District is facing many serious challenges. To learn that a 2 mill increase in property taxes can occur without a referendum is alarming to all property owners, but it is especially alarming to those on fixed incomes.
To learn that the Warren County School Board still insists on meeting behind closed doors to hear a "State of the District" presentation and gain "consensus" adds to my concern. The Comment published by the Warren Times Observer on August 16, 2012, is on target. It IS the taxpayers who are paying for education - we should have a right to have free access to the discussion that the School Board holds about the future of education in our County - especially if they plan to continue to automatically increase the price we have to pay for owning property in order to fund education.
Peter E. Pepke