West Chester >> School districts in Chester County now know how high they will be allowed to raise property taxes for the 2018-19 school year after the Pennsylvania Department of Education released late last week Act 1 indices for approximately 500 districts.
The Act 1 index is used to determine the maximum tax increase percentage a district can levy before going to a ballot referendum or filing a referendum exception with the department.
Eight school districts in the county will be held at the Act 1 base level, which drops 0.1 percentage points from last year to 2.4 percent: Downingtown, Kennett Consolidated, Owen J. Roberts, Phoenixville, Tredyffrin-Easttown, Unionville-Chadds Ford and West Chester.
The other districts received the following indices: Avon Grove School District, 3.1, Coatesville Area School District, 3.0, Octorara School District, 3.0, and Oxford Area School District, 3.3.
Districts may raise taxes any amount up to their index.
If a school district wishes to raise taxes a percentage over their mandated index, it can be voted on by district residents by referendum, or a referendum exception may be filed with the state if the need to raise taxes higher due to retirement contributions, special education expenditures or school construction debt. Filing for an exception does not automatically mean a district will ultimately raise taxes over their index.
Created in 2006, the Act 1 index was signed into law to “ease the financial burden of home ownership by providing school districts the means to lower property taxes to homeowners” by way of gaming revenues.