Homeowners in Chester County have learned to expect an annual increase in their school taxes, and this year will be no different for homeowners in all but one school district, write Lucia Geng and Laura McCrystal for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Coatesville Area School District board approved a 3.9 percent increase for the 2019-2020 school year, putting it among the districts with the highest increases in the Philadelphia region. (According to an Inquirer analysis, 53 of 60 school districts in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware counties have raised taxes for 2019-2020.) This move is putting added pressure on the school district’s homeowners, who have seen their school taxes increase by 19 percent in the last five years and 39 percent in the last 10 years.
“I’m just fed up with it,” said Barbara Robertson, a resident of Valley Township.
Some of the region’s wealthiest school districts have also had some of the biggest tax increases. The Tredyffrin/Easttown School District has had consecutive tax increases for the last 15 years, including the latest 3.9 percent increase for its 2019-2020 budget.
These constant increases have prompted some residents to start questioning the process.
“I think part of the problem is that, as a result of people moving here for the school district, the budget process is not scrutinized as much as it would be,” said Pattye Benson of Tredyffrin Township.
The main reasons for the hikes are rising pension and other mandated costs. Also, the wealthier school districts are receiving less state funding.
However, the Downingtown Area School District continues to hold steady with no increases for a fifth year in a row. According to business manager David Matyas, the district has managed to control its expenses by contracting services to reduce costs and by making its buildings more energy efficient.
An increase may be on the horizon, though.
“We are getting to the point where we can no longer expand existing buildings and will need to construct new facilities,” said Matyas.
Read more about increases in school taxes in The Philadelphia Inquirer here.