Dedicated To Equitable Tax Funding Of Pennsylvania Schools

The School Property Tax Elimination Act (SPTEA)


In late March 2008 the PTCC and PCTA asked homeowners to send their real-life stories telling how relentlessly increasing school property taxes are affecting their quality of life. The response to this request was overwhelming; the letters starkly demonstrate the frustration, fear, hopelessness, and anger that is widespread throughout ALL age groups and families from all areas of Pennsylvania over the lawmakers’ inaction in addressing this issue.

The politicians who refuse to support elimination and offer nothing but lame excuses MUST be shown that their inaction and endless political games are jeopardizing the welfare and the lives of many thousands of Pennsylvanians. They MUST understand that what they are doing (or not doing) is destroying the future for good, honest people who only want to live their lives without the fear of financial ruin.

If the Harrisburg lawmakers truly care about the homeowners of this state, they will consider carefully the letters below that clearly show them the REAL faces of the property tax issue and how their procrastination and cowardice towards eliminating school property taxes is affecting the lives of REAL people.

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and we'll add it to the compilation.


In their own words: Real-life stories from Pennsylvania homeowners

I am 50 years old now and have been disabled and on SSD for 10 years. It kills me to see my wife get up in the mornings and go to work because all her life she was a stay at home mother. That’s what she wanted and that’s what was best for our children. For over 25 years I worked hard some jobs I worked 80 plus hours a week that’s 2 fulltime jobs but that’s what it took to raise 3 children. The house where we live now we rented for about 12 years.

We were with the help of our landlord able to buy the house about 5 years ago. Our taxes and insurance is in escrow with the mortgage co. One thing I am tired of hearing is that people bought more than they can afford!! In our situation we could afford it before the insurance, gas, fuel to heat our home, food prices, all utilities, and taxes increased. When we first bought the home the payments were about $1000 a month it’s a fixed rate mortgage and is now close to $1200 a month due to the escrows.

One thing that hasn’t gone up is pay. My wife gets a raise that amounts to about $40 a month and the increase of prices of all bills goes up $200 a month. We have no savings and no retirement set up and its not like we have a lot. We have cut our phone service and will be considering cutting other things as well like cell phones internet service, and satellite TV. We are just one step away from financial ruin and what a toll that takes on our health and well being. - Anonymous, Lancaster County

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The past two years I have had to rely on my married daughter to help me pay my Octorara School Taxes, Chester County. My taxes went up $500 two years ago and $480 last year and they anticipate going up again this year. My school taxes are now $3200 and Borough/County taxes equal almost $900. (my home is a small rancher built in 1972)

In order for me to stop depending on my children to help me pay, as my retirement and social security is only $1300/month, I am contemplating getting a reverse mortgage in order to stay in my home. My deceased husband and I worked hard for 20+ years to pay this house off and only when he passed away and the insurance paid it off, was it free and clear. Now I have to re-mortgage it to pay my taxes?????

Please....something must be done to help the Pennsylvania taxpayer. - Carol Moyer, Chester County

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My story is not about me... It is about my parents. My mother, a Pennsylvania State Employee, was due to retire this year in hopes of enjoying her golden years. And then the year 2008 arrived. The Jersey Shore School District's out of control property taxing (read any of the local papers, Jersey Shore's School District / Tax Base Issues are more than public record over the past few years), in conjunction with the out of control cost of fuel oil, as well as skyrocketing health care expenses, have forced a decision to continue working to simply 'stay afloat' as the economy continues to sink... and staying afloat is questionable at best.

I am burdened daily with wondering if my parents can afford to eat, let alone afford to heat their home. With a fixed income going into retirement (no cost of living adjustments), how long can my parents afford to be solvent? How long until everything they have worked their entire lives for is taken away by greedy school boards who spend an open-end budget full of someone else's money. Who holds them accountable? Just because they want all the amenities of luxury, IF IT DOESN'T FIT INTO YOUR BUDGET>>>YOU CANNOT HAVE IT. Instead they rob their constituents the following year with the almost routine annual increase of their property taxes!!! How long would each and every one of us survive if we didn't maintain our monthly/annual budgets in our households? But no one holds the endless spending school boards accountable!!!! How does that make you feel? A Career State Government Employee cannot afford to even retire. Will you be able to afford retirement? How long into retirement will it be until you cannot afford your own home? Scary isn't it? – Anonymous, Clinton/Lycoming County

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My husband & I are on Social Security now, & though we have some savings, it won't be long before we have to use it for the ever growing taxes that are due in Spring & Fall. The PA school tax is especially burdensome as you well know. We had hoped for a resolution to this long before now by the abolishment of that tax. If our savings are used up with those taxes, what will we use when an emergency comes along?? With the ever rising prices of gas & oil & food, the money we have to work with is getting less & less.

We urge you to please put into law the END of the huge Property tax before ours & the savings of countless others is gone, homes lost, & hope erased. We have worked hard all our lives to maintain & keep our home, & now the resources we thought we had are like water sadly slipping through our hands. - Richard & Joan Hornberger, Elverson, Chester County

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You wanted a real face with a real story. I hope this helps, because the school property tax is a major financial burden for me.

In 2003 I built my house in Lancaster County; I was told my school and county property taxes would be only $2,800. Five years later, I am now paying over $4,600 for the same house. The bigger difference from 2003 to now, is back in 2003, I was married with 2 incomes to count on to pay all the bills. But life since then has seriously changed for my family. I am now a single father, struggling every day for the last 3 years raising three very young children ages 5, 8, 9 years by myself.

Aside from the day to day stuff of dealing with bills, school, doctors, house, food shopping, and cooking, I had to try to make money in between. However, from September 2005 to December 2007, I had more money going out than coming in. Thank God, my savings and credit helped me weather the financial storm of red ink. As you can guess, my saving is all now exhausted. We are now just living from paycheck to paycheck.

Last year, to pay my school property taxes on time I had to take a cash advance from my credit card to pay the school property tax bill. This year, I refused to use my credit cards again for school property taxes. At present, I still owe over $3,700 in past due school taxes. At least I can thank God again, because I am counting on my Federal and State income tax returns. When they come in it will be a big help for me paying off the property tax bill finally.

The only down side is that tax return money could have been better used to pay for braces that my 9 year old daughter that really needs, and has been waiting over a year.

This is my real story. – David, Lancaster County

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I am writing to you for all the senior citizens who are getting tired of making a decision if it is going to be food or fuel. We are both in our 70"s and have paid enough taxes to buy or house twice over. We don't mind paying our fare share, but the increases the School board levies on us, increases every year that don't help our budget, which we have to live by, they have no limit to which they can increase your taxes, like the money grows on trees in our back yard. Why this is taking so long to do something about this situation is hard for me to understand. The representatives are supposed to be working for us, that is a laugh. They are filling their pockets with our taxes and not hearing what the people want. - Janice & James DeWald

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I cannot afford to retire in 2009 after 30 years of teaching in the public school system because my pension will not be sufficient to cover my house payment which includes my property taxes. The property taxes are greater than my principal, interest and homeowners insurance. I am 57 with health issues which require me to work until my SS kicks in which is at least 5 years away. I could work close to home and part time, but I can't afford to with not only the property taxes but all of the other problems with the economy. I can't afford to do simple home improvements like new sliders because the old ones are deteriorating.

I will never own this home even when the mortgage is paid. I am only the grounds keeper for the state of Pennsylvania. I am not even a paid employee; I am a volunteer grounds keeper. If I for any good reason cannot pay my property taxes the state will fire me and take away my home. I am really considering selling when the economy improves and find a nice rental property and let someone else volunteer to work and pay to work to the state. - Donna Alford, York County

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My personal story! I am a senior female 77 years old. I lost my husband last September. When he died, he took half of our income with him. The property tax is $7600. I prepared years ago living on a budget, but always had enough to cover expenses. His death has been difficult for me. We were married 59 years. Our property tax will force me to leave my home. I do not believe this will ever be solved. Hope I am wrong. – Fran, Boothwyn, Delaware County

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I can't afford to live anymore. I have a mortgage to pay, medicine to buy, utilities to pay for and taxes to pay, which I can't afford. I am a disabled widow on Social Security Disability. The SS takes $100 out of my check before I even get it.

The property taxes and school taxes, I don't understand why I have to be punished and made to pay. Yes, I own the house and live in it and have to pay taxes I can't afford. I have no kids in school but I have to pay school tax, which I can not afford. It is a little bit ridiculous isn't it? A homeowner is being punished for owning a home.

Can't you do away with property and school taxes? Please think about it as someday you might be in the same spot!!!!! - J., Columbia County.

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My story pales in comparison to the example in your letter I received today but I did want to share my story if it helps. I am in the National Guard and have been in since 1988. I've been working full time with the Guard for 15 years. I love my job and I love my country. My wife and I decided when we had kids, she would be a "stay at home mom" and take care of the children. Well, that happened a little over 12 years ago. As time passed, we realized that we also wanted to homeschool because of the demise of the moral values in our school systems and the subjects that the schools were teaching kids. We have strong Christian values so opted to homeschool. It has been a blessing to our lives but it has come with sacrifices.

I work full time plus have my National Guard requirements on the weekends. We live in a modest house, drive vehicles that are older but paid off and just have normal living standards. Our motto is that we don't spend money we don't have. I have a great paying job but after our monthly bills, we have about $400 to $500 each month to live on. The meaning of "live on" includes buying groceries. If we are lucky, we may get a family outing once each month. It is hard to get two children ages 12 and 6 to understand that. They see me working all of the time but don't understand how much things cost. My fall school taxes are $1999 each year. The spring taxes for the county are $800. If we did not have to pay those school taxes, it would give me almost $200 more each month- a 50% increase in my monthly budget. We do not get any breaks from the school district for homeschooling. All extra costs are out of pocket expenses. Anyway, school taxes only affect actual homeowners which seems unfair. As a homeowner, I feel penalized for being taxed because I own a home. School tax relief is desperately needed. Thank you for your time. - Sean Livolsi

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Two years ago York County re-assessed all residential properties in the county for the strict purpose of raising more revenue without raising the tax rate (though they attempt to deny this).

While I was sitting in the waiting room to protest my new assessment, I talked to a 75 year old retired farmer who was there to protest his assessment. He told me that he does not have the money to pay the county, the township and his school district the increased property taxes caused by the re-assessment. He stated firmly and unequivocally that when "they" come to foreclose his house because he can't pay his property taxes, "they" had better bring some fire trucks as he would burn his house to the ground before allowing "them" to take it from him. He was deadly serious about this. Of course, "they" and "them" are the mini-bureaucrats who claim to represent the taxpayers, but in fact whose sole purpose is to take care of themselves and the local government employees with excellent salaries, free or low-cost health insurance, fancy new buildings for their offices and more vehicles then they have employees to drive. So it is not just school property taxes that need to be abolished, but ALL property taxes including those imposed by townships, boroughs and counties.

Please do what you can to get these property tax problems resolve or we will see many fire trucks traveling the countryside of Pennsylvania.

Thanks for listening, too bad my state representatives don't. - Anonymous, York County

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We, a retired couple in Chester County, are experiencing a very unexpected situation now. We carefully planned our senior years by saving and purchasing CD's with all the interest feeding into an account to pay property taxes and medical insurance. By now the property taxes are so high and still rising that interest income does not begin to meet them. We are forced to take $600 or more out of Social Security each month to pull the tax money together. We need S.S. checks to meet all utility bills, buy food and meet co-payments for medical bills. Isn't it time to stop taxing at the age of 80? WE'VE DONE OUR JOB! - Anonymous, Chester County

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What is happening to the elderly who cannot pay the outrageous property taxes?

One elderly widower having struggled all his life to finally pay off his modest little home and now on meager social security, a small pension that folded as his little company is out of business, turned to a reverse mortgage some 5 years ago hoping to save the roof over his head. Now he has no equity in his home and must begin paying back interest that has built up on the loan or give them the house, There is no answer for him now but give up his home and seek some kind of shelter that he hopes he can pay. All because of property taxes bleeding an elderly citizen from his home.

I had a ----- that was desperate financially and to keep her home at age 86, she agreed to having her daughter and family move in to her home and help share all the expenses, taxes, heat and light bills or she would have had to sell and go into a senior citizens housing and give up all she had worked for all her life to enjoy a modest little home in her final years.

Another incident, a lady lost her husband, she was 80 years old and although they had struggled and saved all their lives they owned the home. Their last 5 years together were stressed with shortage of income, health costs and with property taxes a major burden. She could not make it and requested that her son and daughter please help. In return she signed the home over to them with the right to continue to live there and that they pay the property taxes, sewage, and up keep on the property as she could not afford it, and she wanted to live out her life in the house, but would have lost it and ended up a ward on the welfare system.

These are the typical of what is happening and can happen to a major numbers of seniors because that they are from the working class of this country and by living longer, they outlive their financial needs by the continued increases in property taxes, and all costs for everything needed to survive. It is a disgrace to hand all these perks to these school teachers, only work 1/2 year, give them high salaries, $15,000 health insurance free, full pay pensions, on and on, and what we get is a bill that we must pay or they will take your home and it will go to pay for all this crap for who they are calling education of the children?

And I have had no one in the schools for 60 years! Age 86, wife 84. I admire your help and although seniors are a major voting block we cannot get support. Why should I even go to vote, only voting for continuing the corruption? - Anonymous

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When we first bought our home in Pennsylvania, our mortgage payments (with a fixed interest rate) was $1059/month. Now it's almost at $1300/month ($1294 to be exact). That's an increase of 22%.

When we first moved up here 5 years ago, the gas prices were $1.45/gallon. Today's price is $3.29/gallon. That's an increase of 127%.

The price of heating oil was $89.00/month and today's price on budget billing is $154.00/month. That's an increase of 73%.

Our average electric bill was about $100.00/month. Now it's at $130.00/month. That's an increase of 30%.

These are actual amounts and not made up. The increases are downright ridiculous.

With these ridiculously rising costs, how can the lawmakers think that people can consistently afford these increases when the average raise or pay increase is about 5% a year?

I know that this isn't about the gas/oil increases; however, I included this information to the lawmakers just to show them how much the average family is paying overall for all of these increases.

If property and school taxes continue to increase in this ridiculous way (the same as the other increases), then how can they expect the economy to ever recover? People will be starting to lose their homes and evidently that is already happening now.

My husband and I work diligently (him in his business and some part-time work) and myself with a full-time job and a part-time selling job. But I'm not quite sure as to how long we can hang on ourselves.

This is what people have to do when these type of increases hit. The ones who suffer the most are our children as working this much means spending less quality time with them.

Retail is also going to be hit hard as people can no longer afford to go out and eat, go to a movie or even go on a vacation. Even clothing is becoming a luxury. Our food prices are even going up which I'm sure is a result of the gas price increases.

Car dealerships (as I work in the insurance industry) are being hit hard first with many locations closing their doors and leaving people out of work. Next will be small retail outlets, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, etc. as people will no longer be able to afford the services they offer.

I sincerely hope that something can be done here. I'm disgusted, exhausted, and up to my (you know what) with all of these increases! - Angry Tax Payer, York County

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Yet another struggling senior citizen: 75-year old woman living on $700/month in a run-down house in a dangerous, drug-infested neighborhood. We helped when the shut-off notice came from a $260 sewage bill; now the county taxes $165 and city taxes $265 are due. Next will be the school taxes (been a while since SHE had anyone in school!) which will be at least $600. Then there's garbage, per capita tax for the privilege of living in Jeannette (ha!). Then she still has to scrape for the necessities: utilities, food, medicine. She wouldn't have been able to pick up her meds if we hadn't left her some cash. And this woman worked her entire life to raise a family, sometimes working two or three jobs at once -- she worked hard and contributed -- NOT like the ones on welfare looking for handouts! Even worse, she is one of FOUR senior citizens trapped on that street in the exact same situation!! What do the high-paid politicians in our "great state" do for them??? Now is the time to do something!!!! - Anonymous, Westmoreland County

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R. H. Shuker, a Berks County Financial Consultant, submitted the following six stories from some of his clients:

I recently visited with one of my clients to review her financials. Her name is Marie and she is a 74 year old widow, living on a fixed income and her deceased husband’s pension, which she uses to pay her school and real estate taxes with. During the review, Marie asked me how long she will be able to pay these taxes with the money she has left in her husband’s pension. I told her, based on the annual rate increases we incur each year, she had three (3), maybe four (4) years left. With tears in her eyes, she then said, “What am I going to do then?”

In the past ten (10) years, Marie has paid over $32,000.00 to school taxes from her husband’s pension. There is no mortgage on the home, it was paid off years ago, yet, now she lives with the fear of losing the house she and her husband worked so hard to pay for. School taxes must be abolished before our streets are overrun with elderly homeless people.

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Regarding the financial burden school taxes are causing on our elderly citizens, Jane, one of my clients, who is a 78 year old widow, had a medical problem last year and incurred a substantial bill. To pay this and her school taxes, which were $2,431.00, she had to withdraw an additional $14,000.00 from her IRAs. Because of this withdrawal she had to, also, pay federal taxes of $1,549.00. If she had not had to withdraw the additional $2,431.00 her federal taxes would have been zero. Instead, the total tax cost to her was $3,980.00. This is double taxation. The question is, how long will our retired and elderly be able to financially survive before they go broke and are forced to lose their homes?

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Right now I have a male client, 42 years of age, he is going through a nasty divorce and has custody of his four (4) daughters. Three of them are in elementary and junior high schools and one of them is in college. He receives no child support from his wife, so he works all the overtime he can get. With heating oil over $3.00 a gallon, he cannot afford to fill his oil tank, so he buys oil in 5 gallon containers, as he needs it to heat his house and keep his children warm. During the day, while at work and school, he turns the heat way down to conserve his oil. So far, he has managed to keep his home. The school taxes he has to pay are approximately $6,000.00 a year. Were it not for that expense, he would have more than enough money to fill his oil tank for the year, with money left to do a little extra something for his children. If taxes continue to increase at their present rate he will be forced to sell his house, but for now, he’s praying that it soon warms up.

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I have an eighty (80) year old widow who tells me that she can’t afford to comfortably heat her house. She purchased her home in 1945 and, obviously, has no mortgage. However, she pays more in taxes every five (5) years than she paid for the house. To be able to afford to keep her house and pay the taxes on it, she keeps the temperature set at 62 degrees. She is a heart patient and has R.A. A warm environment gives her the most comfort, which she is, obviously, not getting the benefit of. She wears a coat in the house and stays wrapped in blankets to keep warm enough. She won’t be run out of her house, she says, but if her condition worsens she won’t even be able to walk out of it because she will be too crippled to. If our representatives won’t eliminate school taxes, these representatives just might be eliminated by the voters, and without a job they just may find themselves living in a cold house next winter.

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Jeff is a widowed client of mine. Three years ago, at the age of sixty-two, he got the golden hand shake and retired. He’d been working since he was sixteen; during his married life he and his wife built their dream house. Retired and now living on a fixed income, he was forced to sell his home because he could no longer afford the school and real estate taxes. He moved in with a friend to share expenses and took on a part-time job to make ends meet and have a little ex tra to get some enjoyment out of his ‘golden years’ of life. Life for our seniors isn’t golden anymore, so schools can build Taj Mahals and instruct our children with their ‘golden rulers’. If the kids were all graduating with honors and above average grades, maybe it would be justified, but we all know that’s not the case, which makes the exchange of tax payers dollars for school taxes just plain wrong.

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Relative to the subject of school taxes, a married couple, ages 39 and both working, who are clients of mine, recently went through the following ordeal. Near the end of 2006, their mortgage was sold to another lender. When they made their first mortgage payment to them, which included their school and real estate taxes for their escrow, the new lender did not have their escrow numbers accurate and returned a check, stating an overage. My clients resubmitted it, explaining the amount they sent was correct. The lender ignored this and applied the overage amount to the principle. In 20 07 my clients received a new payment amount from the lender for an additional $657.00/month because they now recognize the escrow is short. Jim worked as much overtime as he could get, but they weren’t able to hit the number, it was, basically impossible for them to do. Then Jim was hurt at work and was put on light duty, which meant no overtime. The lender would not work with them to rectify this and, consequently, the mortgage went into foreclosure. I got involved and by May was able to stop the foreclosure and establish the correct mortgage payment amount with the lender, but not until they agreed to pay the foreclosure fees in the amount of $1,683.96. Most folks would have lost their home in this situation, all because they have to escrow school taxes. We need a fair and just tax to pay for our schools, now!

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It is not the teachers unions or the politicians in Harrisburg; these are symptoms of the problem. The real reason we are having our precious savings stolen from us in the name of the law is we have entrusted the most important institution in our society, the education of our children to a group of people known to be corrupt. And it’s not just the current office holders, power corrupts, and anyone given the power we give the elected officials will eventually be corrupted. It is time to take our children's education back into our hands and stop the oppressive taxation of OUR land. Privatize education and let US decide where and how our children will be educated! - Anonymous

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I live in the Wilkes-Barre area school district and the taxes here are over the top. I live on an SSID check. The 24 dollars I received in relief this year didn’t help one iota. Everything else has gone up but my check. I watch on TV the proceedings for the tax break with the hope that I will get a break. All I hear is a break for the seniors. Not one person I’ve spoken with over 60 knows what the lottery monies does for them yet now they want the gaming money to go to them also. Five years from now they most likely won’t know what the gaming money does either.

Here in Luzerne County we have our elected officials spending our money on drinks in strip clubs when that money can help the people. Spending is out of hand.

It’s time for a clean slate!!! - Anonymous, Luzerne County

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In 1972, I bought a house in Kenhorst, PA. It took only a few years of property tax increases for the property tax escrow amount to equal the amount of the mortgage payment. I, and many other people, wrote to politicians to eliminate property taxes

The Governor Mifflin School District ignored a 2-to-1 referendum vote rejection of the plan to shut down a number of grade schools and build a new intermediate school. They increased the property taxes of everyone by about 25%, and never reduced the rate when construction was completed. The rate increased almost every year since.

In 1982, after promotions and raises at work, I took my savings and paid off my mortgage. This was a good move, because 15 months later, the industry in which I worked, crashed nationwide, and I could no longer have paid the mortgage and the property taxes.

I hit the PA lottery with 5 out of 6 numbers for $1170 which only partly paid my school property taxes. This was the only time I won this much money, and most other people never did win this much.

I frequently write letters to the editor, to legislators, and to the Governor, giving reasons why property taxes should be abolished. Almost all we got was slot machines. When we get our federal "Economic Stimulus Rebate”, ours and many other Pennsylvanians' will probably go toward paying property taxes which should have been abolished thirty-some years ago. - Ron Shultz, Berks County

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I have in front of me a reply from the Board of Assessment Appeals. It states my application for homestead/farmstead exclusion for the homeowners tax relief act has been processed. It says my application has been approved. It’s not necessary to re-apply, as long as this property remains my primary residence. This notice was mailed on Feb. 17 2005 and I’m still waiting for the deduction. What I do see is increases, not decreases. This homestead rebate is just a joke, to get the older people happy about something that’s not going to happen. I’m a senior adult and like most of us we’ll all be dead. Just like the lottery money to help us seniors, none. - Anthony P. Zampirri, Oreland, PA, Montgomery County

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Please Help!

My name is Clifford Bell, and I have lived in the same house for over 40 years. In 2001, I became disabled after a lifetime of working hard for my little slice of the American dream. On disability I cannot afford the property taxes they impose upon me and my retirement money is quickly dissipating. If something is not done soon and I mean soon, I will be homeless! I have contacted my representatives repeatedly only to hear what they support and this and that, but still nothing gets done! I cannot afford the runaround much longer. I certainly hope and pray that you can convince them to act now, as more and more people like me are losing their homes and it just isn't right!!!! - Clifford Bell

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This property tax thing must be resolved now!

As a retired middle school teacher and college professor, father of four, and grandfather of six, I sometimes must choose between having our family over for a Sunday meal or saving for property taxes! Granted, my wife and I are not among those extreme cases of people who must forgo medicine or eat dog food to save their homes, but, to be honest, sometimes we become overwhelmed at the school property taxes we are forced to pay!

Our school district, Southeastern School District, has, in the past four or five years, raised our taxes to the point that we, a rural and relatively sparsely populated area, are now the highest taxed residents of York County! We desperately need your help! Jinny, my wife, and I will do whatever is necessary to keep our home and support our loved ones even if that means that we must go back to work. But, we feel that we should not be forced to do that. We both have worked many, many years to provide for our family (while also paying taxes on every dollar we have ever earned) and we feel that our state government has let us down.

There was a time when the most serious concern of retirees was payment of medical/health insurance benefits. That is no longer the case. Our major expense these days is our horrendous property tax, most of which goes to our school district. It is a sad state of affairs when our tax bills come packaged with quarterly payment vouchers!

Those of us who have spent a lifetime of hard work and paying our “fair share” of taxes can no longer afford this essentially unfair taxation! Please support School Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007 (HB 1275) and wholeheartedly reject any half-hearted, temporary “fixes” to a long-term problem. There is absolutely no excuse for not resolving this matter quickly (other than sheer politics, maybe). This is a simple matter with a simple solution. Fix it! And, if you can’t, I think it is time for us to vote for someone who can! Pennsylvania taxpayers will accept nothing less than complete property tax elimination and we voters will be watching very carefully what happens in this upcoming session. - Claude W. “Gizz” Davis, Jr., York County

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I received the "brochure" from Governor Ed Rendell regarding how we as baby boomers should plan for our retirement. Wow, here's a plan......if the good governor would eliminate the property/school taxes that I pay I could sock away a lot for my retirement. I am 48 and have 17 years to retirement X $6500 per year in property taxes = $110,500.00. Now that is a plan!!! - Anonymous

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I am not (yet) in quite the desperate straits of many but things are bad. Not long ago I raided some limited and rapidly diminishing savings to buy our heating fuel - cost? ... over $1,000!! I regulate our heat to max 62º even in coldest weather - so we manage by adding clothes.

All we ever seem to be doing is cutting back and cutting back and we certainly cannot afford any health insurance... and I'd say we are typical of many folks, just not quite yet at the very bottom of the pit like some other unfortunates - but fast approaching perhaps.

I am close to retirement age but as an immigrant from UK (now a citizen) I will not expect or get any Social Security. My wife and I work for ourselves, making even together an income which by many standards these days would be classed as ''poor''. Fortunately we have some things paid off but even so - the bills get ever larger and yet it is hard to make more income to cover them. Swinging taxes from all directions do not help, not to mention fuel costs and its effect on everything else.

While I want teachers as one example to have fair pay - things have to be kept in perspective and worse still are the ''fat cat" payments to people who I cannot believe ''EARN" what they get - it's what they ''MAKE" - two different things. Some cases - many - are obscene.

And finally, it's time US money was spent at home on things that matter, rather than handouts abroad and on the 12 million or more illegal immigrants. I came in the right way - and it cost me too - what benefits do I get - zilch! - Chris, SW PA

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After a meeting of the O. J. Roberts Taxpayers Association, I walked out with one of the attendees to our cars. He is a retired teacher, having taught mostly at private schools including West Chester University. I'm guessing that his income is not a lot because of teaching in private institutions. He told me that his taxes are about $6000/year, and that because of that, he cannot afford to buy a newspaper or a magazine, and he's also afraid of losing or having to sell his home. That's just not right. Incidentally, he's 85 years old. – Anonymous, Montgomery County

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Unfortunately for me I live in a high income area based on per capita incomes and the money that is funneled back through the tax system to our district is actually quite low, so our school taxes are quite high. Unfortunately for my wife and family I am suffering with end stage COPD and must rely on a disability pension of $320 a month (which pays my health care) from my employer and my meager SSI. That is no ones fault, bad genes, bad choices.

The bottom line is our electric company raised the rates over 40%, my gas bill went up $1 per gallon over last year, of course gasoline is over $1 more. I turn off my electric heat at bedtime and turn it back on at 6 in the evening for 4 hours so my wife can be comfortable for the evening hours, after working a full day. That's 4 hours a day! My house is fairly well insulated so I can maintain 64 degrees most of the time, that saves me money to pay the gas bill. I can not fill my gas tank in the car cause I left it run too low and don't have the money to use for that luxury, true!

Now my taxes come due March 31st, up $400 from last year, you do the math. I don't want pity, I just want to live out my life in my house and not worry about my wife losing it when I'm gone. The increase in school taxes would have allowed me to keep the heat on a little longer, or filled my gas tank, or fixed things around the house. We have been hearing tax reform for what seems like forever, when will the rhetoric end? I am a life long Pa. resident, a veteran of The Vietnam era, have worked long hours doing community service in my area, Boy Scouts, United Way, YMCA, etc, etc. I have served my country , my state , my community, now it's time to get back, just a fair shake on our taxes, not a handout, a fair assessment of paying a fair share. – Anonymous, Lewisburg, Union County

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You don't need me to tell you how seriously many of us take our single largest expense of the year. As we buy our homes back twice a year, we wonder if it should really cost $10,000 a year to enable a student to sit at a desk, and learn the knowledge and skills he needs to succeed in life. For less than $200 and a $400 computer, maybe an internet connection, and with a little parental involvement and self-discipline, a motivated student can gain a K-12 education. We are wasting the taxpayer's money on the public school system. It would be a blessing if all were locked up or converted to retirement centers tomorrow. See http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/ to learn how several generations have been perverted away from real education to become "throw away" consumers, taxpayers, and factory cogs. For the $200 K-12 education, see http://www.robinsoncurriculum.com/view/rc/index.htm. - Walter Schwenk

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As a home occupier (we will never really own our home as our property taxes are beginning to own us), a father of three and a husband, I have to take this time to express to my concerns. Pennsylvania residential and commercial property tax owners are suffering as a direct result of the excessive out of control tax bills and spending. Business are leaving Pennsylvania for this reason.

My wife and I built a modest home in October, 2006. We now pay in excess of $9000.00 a year in school and municipal taxes which have gone up annually. Between the mortgage, utilities, insurance, necessities, etc, we are struggling. We have been raiding our savings to pay the taxes.

Both my wife and I have worked like animals to keep afloat, but I feel like we are sinking. I ask other home occupiers in my community about this issue and they respond with the same. They usually don’t write letters or complain other than verbally because they are too tired at the end of the day. Our local senior citizens are resulting to reverse mortgages to pay their taxes. Some are finally selling their homes in this depressed market because they just can’t afford it.

So what are we getting for these huge tax bills? Our streets are full of potholes. The highway bridges are literally falling down. Our schools are churning out incompetent students who are less prepared now that ever yet the two plus million dollar ball fields are at the top of the school board agendas. Are we getting reduced property tax assessments in line with the depressed house values? The salaries of municipal entities are ever rising. Law enforcement budgets consume fifty plus percent of annual budgets but crime is higher now than ever. Listen to the news very day about murders, drugs, robberies, assaults and the like.

So what are we getting for these huge tax bills? We are getting the status quo! Higher and Higher taxes every year!

I’m sick of it! Are You? We need another Boston Tea Party. Who wants to join me? Who of you has the strength to impeach and vote out every government official that supports the status quo? Who is willing to keep paying and getting deeper in debt for nothing?

There is only one solution to start with and that is to have The School Property Tax Elimination Act passed now! Either the politicians are with us or they are against us! You decide. - Terry Sinclair, Mohnton, Berks County

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I have lived in York County for about a year and a half, prior to this, I lived in Montgomery county MD. This system of school districts is ridiculous to say the least. There should be only one school district per county with THE COUNTY controlling the schools like MD. There should be one school board made up on 7 or 9 members answerable to the COUNTY. This would allow one health plan for all school employees and there should be no right to strike. This fractured system of school districts results in higher taxes. My house in Montgomery County was assessed at $399,000 and my tax last year was a little over $4100.00 before the reductions that brought it down to $2900.00. This was THE TOTAL tax I had to pay. Here in York County, my house is assessed at $379,000 and the SCHOOL TAX alone was close to $6000.00. What is wrong with this picture? - Ben Mangus, Hanover, York County

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Just to let you know, my wife and I reside in Monroe County, and we just received our oil bill for $550. and our taxes are due by the end of April. We are both retired, and are having difficulty coming up with the tax payment. - M. Souders, Monroe County

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My wife and I live in a small Northwestern Pennsylvania community called Linesville. We are near the shores of Pymatuning Reservoir, and the Commonwealth owned Pymatuning State Park. In addition to being property owners, we also own a small restaurant, a laundromat, a car wash, and a self storage facility. We are largely dependant upon natural gas for most of our businesses, and we know where those prices have gone. Soon, electricity will be following suit, and then in less than two years our municipal authority will be further assailing us with an increase when they construct a new sewage treatment facility. I could go on about how our costs are skyrocketing, but the purpose, I understand, is to tell you why we need real property tax relief. All together, we pay in the neighborhood of $10,000 in combined county and school taxes, and any kind of relief that could come from reform would be greatly appreciated!

Our problem- as well as the problem of many western Crawford County residents- is, with the rising cost of consumer goods, fuel, and utilities, combined with our school district's unrepentant spending, soon we will be so far into the red that we will not be able to survive in business. The mean household income in our area can only sustain so much pressure. Locally, we no longer have much industry to rely on for good paying jobs. There is a larger base of older citizens who no doubt also feel this crunch, and tourism is lagging because people just can't afford to travel even short distances for recreation. And, as earlier stated with the rising costs of so many things essential to survival, we as business owners are left with some very difficult choices. We can increase the prices of our products and services, but this will further alienate us from our customers. Choices will be made to either wash their car, or put that little bit of change into their gas tank, take the kids out for a pizza, or heat the house; these hard choice comparisons can go on, but you get the picture. Of course, we can also just give up our dreams and sell, or close the doors. (I might add that recently the Commonwealth undertook a large scale renovation project at the Pymatuning Spillway. This renovation also included a restaurant that now competes with local facilities offering the same types of food; it's hugely unfair that the Commonwealth basically competes against us in this manner. While the Spillway project was designed to increase tourism to our area, this good will was defeated by the Commonwealth's greed for taking all the benefit away from the locals, who rely heavily on this traffic to sustain our businesses.)

So, real property tax relief can and will benefit our community, as well as other communities as well, by putting more money back into the hands of people who are sustaining our small local economies. Through tax relief such as that suggested by Representative Rohrer and others, we will be able not just to survive, but to flourish. Because I also have a full time job with the Commonwealth, we are able to keep our costs low to help those who might not be so fortunate. With some much needed help from our legislators who have the ability to enact these reforms, we can continue to provide affordable goods and services to our community and the citizens who live here. We can also remain contributing members of the local business economy, rather than closing down and surrendering to the spiraling costs of remaining in business.

I appreciate the opportunity to convey these thoughts to you and others about how dire the situation really is in our area. Unfortunately, I can't put into words how really desperate it is, but believe me, we are hurting out here. Please, listen to your constituents on this matter. Put the funds gained from gaming to the best use, and that's to keep business afloat through tax relief, and also put money into the hands of the consumer who will then be able to continue to support small local business. Besides, won't there be a better return, in that sales tax revenues from our goods and services will continue? The lynch pin here is, though, tax reform and relief. - Don and Cheryl Ott, Linesville, Crawford County

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My wife and I are close to 60 years old. I am currently working two jobs and my wife got her real estate license last year. She is trying to help, but so far has not been able to create an income. She is limited due to health reasons.

We live in Armstrong County and our school property taxes are completely out of control. We considered moving to a different state or even a different county, but with the real estate market like it is, we are trapped.

I am in sales and do not receive compensation for automobile gas (mileage). Due to the outrageous gasoline prices, unbelievable health insurance, and ever rising food prices, we can barely pay our bills, let alone save any money for this years huge property tax bill coming up soon. We will most likely have to try and get a loan, if possible.

We have worked hard all our lives and raised two kids and have always lived very moderately. It's a shame that we can't even think of retirement. That is out of the question.

We can only hope and pray that we will survive this crisis. We are working as much as we can and doing everything humanly possible, I guess the rest is in the Lord's hands and possibly the legislators to relieve us of this terrible school property tax burden. - Pete J. Benvenuti, Armstrong County

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As I look into the most immediate future and then meditate on the long range probabilities of rising Property Taxes, I cannot help but wonder what is to come of our properties hat have been invested in and paid taxes on, for several generations. It has always been the long range plan of our family to keep the farm intact and continue to pass it on to the next generation. With the situation as it is, and the Legislature's not feeling any responsibility to make a logical decision to just raise the Sales Tax and end all this,

I have truly been thinking of when we might be faced to sell to survive in the long run of things. We, here in Pennsylvania, depend on the farmland and the farmers for the means of producing the milk, beef, and food chain crops necessary for survival of all Pennsylvanians. I don't have to tell you that family farms are disappearing at an alarming rate and the acreage being sold off for whatever... Please use your influence to do whatever is necessary to curtail the increases of taxes and help, not only the Farmer, but all Pennsylvanians. Where one is helped all gain. - Rev. Tom Blackall, Monroeton, Bradford County

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Yet another story of a 75-year old woman getting $700/month living in a run-down house in a dangerous, drug-infested neighborhood. We helped her avoid water shutoff ($260/year); but now comes County taxes $170 and City taxes $265. Not to mention $600 of school taxes (been a while since SHE had children in school, but still another increase again this year!). Then there's garbage and per capita for the "privilege" of living in her fine town. Oh yeah, then utilities, food and medicine. If we hadn't left her some money, she wouldn't have been able to get her meds refilled. And she's not somebody looking for a handout: she worked two, sometimes three, jobs to raise her family. And she is one of four people on her street in the same situation!! The high-paid politicians need to pay attention to the upstanding, hard-working citizens who have kept this state going for decades -- not the lazy generation of today sitting around demanding handouts! - Anonymous, Westmoreland County

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It is down right criminal, what they are doing, I do not see how they can sleep at night, or even look in the mirror, we need to vote out Bill DeWeese and all the rest of them, that are against the property tax reform. - Frank DeWald, Berks County

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In relation to the out of control school property taxes, I am writing to express my dismay with the increase in school property taxes. In addition I am also a small business owner who cannot determine when I will be paid for completed work and how long it will take to receive this money. I have been forced to follow the work and this means working an hour and a half away from my home. If you can possibly imagine the amount of money I am putting towards gas to get to work on a daily basis then you can also imagine that money is tighter than it has ever been. Please consider the small business owner in making your decisions regarding this issue. – Anonymous, Berks County

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For many years I have had some real health problems cropping up one after another that has prevented me from working in almost any capacity. Even sitting for long periods is a problem.

I collect no disability, or unemployment compensation. I have too little saved toward retirement and can only pray I can eventually return to the working world to catch up. While my wife, God Bless her, is the income provider, I am limited to making home repairs, and doing housework as I am physically able to keep the costs down.

Our roof has leaked into our living room for 5 years, and the exterior of our home is falling apart. Wood is rotting, rain gutters need repairs, and we desperately need to paint, however these tasks are things I cannot physically do, or can financially afford.

We cannot even begin to save enough to get these repairs done. Our average savings generates only $2.00 of interest a year as we live paycheck to paycheck. A home equity loan has been considered, but the added monthly cost is just too much to bear.

My wife’s employer announced it is reverting to a health savings medical plan next year which will make it even more difficult to save. Gas and food prices are also going through the roof.

Despite my wife getting at least a cost of living raise each year our school taxes are rising even faster. We had to pay them late last year, with an added penalty. If they were eliminated it would give us the funds we need to get back on our feet.

Others are feeling the pinch too. Our daughter was married a few years back and for a year they have had difficulty finding a home they can afford in PA that is within a reasonable driving distance from work. The property taxes in the lower cost areas are so high they drive the monthly payment through the roof.

They are considering leaving the state as many of their friends did.

Harrisburg has blinders on and the leadership from the top down should be voted out of office. - Anonymous

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About 2 years ago I was forced into bankruptcy because of increased costs of health insurance, gasoline and the never ending school property taxes. I was fortunate to have enough deductions to get a sizable refund in federal taxes each year, but when I get that refund it has always been used to pay my property taxes for the previous year.

We have no savings and my payment plan under Chapter 13 was not much less than what I was paying prior to the bankruptcy because my payment was high due to all the overtime I was working to keep from bankruptcy in the first place.

This last January my wife was in a catastrophic car accident and she will have permanent deficits from a serious brain injury and will not be able to work or drive possibly for the rest of her life. Since the accident I have been unable to work overtime and have been unable to work my second job. The cost of driving to the hospital 127 miles from our home has fortunately been paid by charity from many good friends and relatives. The modifications to my home to accommodate my wife when she is discharged are also being paid the same way. Even though these good hearted people who are far from being wealthy themselves have given several thousand dollars to assist me the burden will not go away without tax relief. My wife will need 24 hour supervision for a long time. I can use 2 months of family medical leave that I have accumulated from work. I have lost my overtime, my second job and her income. My property taxes are almost 10% of my income.

I was able to convert from chapter 13 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy but that will make it hard to refinance my home which will be due in another year. I have been in the work force for 40 years and the burden continues to get worse. I have contacted my Congressman about HB1275 and he claims to be one of the authors yet when he sends his monthly vote buying propaganda all he mentions are the freebies he has secured for the non profits and sportsman associations and not a word about the needed tax relief. Why has this not been plastered on the front page of every news paper in the state ? Would it not be prudent to publicize the names of all the congressmen and senators that are delaying or are opposed to this bill in every possible media outlet so we can vote these greed stricken imbeciles from office ASAP? - Anonymous, Dalmatia, Northumberland County

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My family and I are trying to pay our tax bill, but find it impossible to get enough money together, without borrowing from family, to pay it. We have paid it in the past by home loans, etc, and now have no savings, nothing we can sell, no one to borrow from, and the school district in Kiski area keeps raising the tax burden. They are building buildings for the administration, maintenance, tearing down 10 year old buildings and putting up new, giving the administration 200,000 dollar salaries and janitors $75,000 a year with no education, just connections.

Please help us. I do not want to move, but Montana is looking awfully good. - J.D., Westmoreland County

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Even though to some people my property taxes don't seem that high, for my income and medical expenses it makes it hard for me to pay them. My county taxes are due at the end of April, I know I won't be able to pay them on time.

With the cost of heating oil skyrocketing, gas, food bills climbing and high cost of medicine, etc. I am not going to be able to pay them on time. So that means a penalty will be tacked on, I am not alone in this problem, so many of my friends and neighbors are in the same situation as I am, but our state politicians don't seem to care. Maybe because they have no idea how it is to go without.

Because of costs, I had to give up one of my blood pressure medicines, all of my asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, and neuropathy medicines. All because it is too expensive and I can't buy them and pay bills.

I am a 64 year old widow and have too many health problems to work anymore, but if I went on disability I would lose my widows benefits and couldn't live on my SS. So I give up medicine in order to pay my taxes. But with the cost of oil, and everything else going so high this year, I still don't have the money for the taxes yet. With the high cost of heating oil, I have resorted to using the wood burner for heat. It is cheaper than oil but it is very hard on my asthma. I keep the oil furnace set at 58 for night time when I can't tend to the wood burner.

Please think of the people who put you in office, not everyone has money, even with the tax rebates it is hard, you have to pay it first to get any thing back. There were several years I couldn't pay them until another year passed and so I missed the rebate.

We need to eliminate school property taxes, it is costing people their homes and something needs to be done-----NOW. Not in a few years, with the cost of everything going up more people will not be able to hold onto their homes.

This shouldn't be happening, it is a shame people have to walk away from homes they worked for and dreamed of owing. We aren't talking mansions, but modest homes that the average person owns. We need help now!

My neighbor received a notice her house will go up for tax sales if she can't pay them. The mailman told her there were 150 notices like that delivered that day. - D.F., Columbia County

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My name is Earl Metzler and have run Metzlers gymnastics for 32 years in PA. I live in Coatesville and currently owe $6,480.26 in school taxes from 2007. Plus an interest payment of $47.63 each month and $35.00 in fees that adds to this bill. In 2007, we finished paying for my last child to finish her college. I still have to pay school taxes at both my business and home Total per year $11,824.49 (Downingtown) and home $6000.00 (Coatesville). I realize I cannot survive in PA much longer. I refinanced my home to pay for business needs, college, weddings, and school taxes. I voted for Ed Rendell on the promise in his first term to do something about school taxes in the first 30 days. Then I voted Democratic because Rendell claimed he needed a democratic house to get the bills passed. I voted against Act 1. I'’ve written letter after letter and still no action.

I spent $128.00 on gas for my two cars today. That’s one week worth of gas. $6656.00 a year for companies making Billions. My business is losing clients because of our weak economy. My costs are rising and the savings for retirement are long gone. The best part is our government couldn't care less. Why should I have to leave the state that I have built my business, friends, reputation and family in? Because I can no longer afford to live here. I have never asked for a handout. I have worked hard my entire life to provide for my family and future. Our state, our politicians have robbed us of our constitutional rights. In 32 years I have paid over $512,000.00 in school taxes and another $250,000.00 in college tuition. Why is this fair? I have no children in school now at 57 years of age. Yet my burden for paying for others continues to rise while the quality of my life goes down. I gave up employees, health care, retirement accounts, and any chance of paying my house off because I trusted the system that says work hard and reap the rewards. Where's the tax relief, real tax relief. Each individual paying their fair share. Not in PA.

I don't believe these letters will do any good. The politician’s pockets are full and they have forgotten about us. Our system doesn't work anymore. Money is all that matters now. It took no time at all to get gambling in PA for so called tax relief. Who benefited from that? The rich, the politicians, the lawyers and ????. It's over for us. I'd be better off if I was an illegal in this country. Good luck America your time has come and gone. - Earl Metzler, Coatesville, Chester County

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We are now in the process in changing our mortgage from a 30 to a 40 year mortgage to be able to stay in our home to afford the taxes. We will never own our home but will be able to afford the payments on taxes with the ten years added on. What a joke. – L.B., Berks County

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What is the matter with you people in Harrisburg??? Don't you care people are losing their homes because of the ridiculous School taxes??? How would you people like it if your parents or any part of your family were losing their Homes??? Think people, Think. – Anonymous

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Its time the Representative of Pennsylvania get off their *** and pass the School TAX Elimination Bill. I have neighbors that are in their 70's having to work just so they don't lose their home to the school boards. I have friends and family who are say enough is enough and selling t