No tax increase for SMASD residents

Property taxes will not be raised for residents of the St. Marys Area School District for the 2012 - 2013 fiscal year, according to SMASD Superintendent Ann Kearney. At Thursday's meeting of the SMASD Board of Directors, Kearney said the district will be able to continue reducing property taxes for the 2012-2013 school year as a result of the distribution of state gaming funds through the Taxpayer Relief Act, also known as Special Session Act 1 of 2006. "We are getting the exact same amount of money, $348,112.51, which works out to be the exact same as the 2011- 2012 amount, a $61 reduction on everyone's tax bill," Kearney said. At 32.25 mills, the district collected a total of $9,521,723 in real estate taxes for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, with a projected $9,548,624 to be collected in 2012-2013. For a home valued at $50,000, 32.25 mils translates to an $808.75 annual tax bill. In a comparison of area districts, property taxes on that same $50,000 home would total $865 in Ridgway, $1,034.50 in DuBois, $1,050 in Cameron County, $1,076 in Bradford, and $1,160.50 in Clearfield. Once a district determines the real estate tax rate for 2012-2013, it the determines the actual amount of property tax relief for each homestead and farmstead. The announcement Thursday comes after the board's March meeting, during which a proposed tax increase of .70 mils for the 2012 - 2013 school year was discussed. Prior to that, the board had voted in January not to raise real estate taxes above the Act 1 index, currently 2.2 percent. "We could raise the taxes up to .70 mills, which would bring in approximately $170,000," Kearney said during March's meeting. At that meeting, she cited a leveling off of local revenue streams in the form of occupational millage and real estate collection as further impacting the district's financial resources. A one-mill increase would have increased the tax on a $50,000 home by $25 and generated approximately $288,500 in potential revenue for the district. On Thursday, Kearney said that while no increase will be enacted this year, she is looking into whether the district would be entitled to a larger reimbursement based on more recent findings than those currently used in tabulating their share of property tax relief."They continue to use data that they used in 2002, so I'm going to send a letter out asking them to take a look at recent data because it may make a difference in how much money we get based on our taxpayers," Kearney said.