Metcalfe Advises Governor to Exercise Full Executive Authority Against School District Efforts to Increase Property Taxes Without Voter Approval
HARRISBURG—The following excerpts are taken from a letter sent by State Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) to Governor Tom Corbett regarding Seneca Valley School District’s latest attempt to increase school property taxes for the 2012-2013 fiscal year without voter referendum.

“My recent letter to you concerning the Seneca Valley School District’s attempt to increase taxes without voter referendum has incited quite a public outcry, not only from taxpayers in the Seneca Valley School District but also from cash-strapped residents across the Commonwealth. Based on the response from the spokesman for the Department of Education, which was published in a local newspaper in my district, it appears that the administration is not evaluating the full scope of the process by which school districts can apply for an Act 1 waiver. Contrary to what was cited by the department spokesman in the article, as Governor, you have oversight of the Department of Education and its internal affairs.

“Act 25 of 2011 explicitly states that ‘the department shall establish procedures for administering the provisions of this subsection, which may include an administrative hearing on the school district’s submission.’ My office spoke with a liaison in the Department of Education to obtain a copy of the administrative procedures and was informed that no “written” procedures exist. The procedures, we were told, are contained within the online data collection system that school districts are required to use to apply for the Act 1 waiver. Ultimately, the online data collection system performs calculations, based on the information provided by the school district, and determines eligibility. It appears that the Commonwealth is letting a computer system determine if taxes can be increased without voter approval.

“As an advocate for no exceptions to Act 1, I hope you will administer the process to the fullest extent of the law to ensure the utmost level of accountability and transparency for taxpayer protection.

“I call on you to issue a management directive, or similar executive measure, to the Department of Education requiring the establishment of written procedures for evaluation of Act 1 waiver requests. I would also encourage your administration to work within the fullest extent of the law to establish an administrative hearing process for further scrutiny of proposals to ensure that school districts are not writing budgets that circumvent the voter referendum process.”

Click here to view the complete letter.

State Representative Daryl Metcalfe
12th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Ty McCauslin
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