Mahoning Township latest Carbon County municipality to pass resolution demanding fair funding for school districts

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MAHONING TOWNSHIP, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Local leaders worry they’re heading for a property tax crisis if they don’t get better funding from the state for local school districts.

And Wednesday night, another township joined the growing list of municipalities in Carbon County demanding more money. Mahoning Township is the eighth municipality in Carbon County to pass this resolution, essentially telling state officials they just can’t keep raising taxes on their residents to fund the schools.

Mahoning Township is the latest municipality in Carbon County to pass a resolution demanding fair funding for school districts from the state.

Penn Forest Township passed it last week, telling state officials to hold up their end of the bargain.

“They have a constitutional mandate to fund the schools to a certain degree and right now the residents are paying double because we’re funding the schools via normal state taxes and via property taxes to the school district,” Penn Forest Township supervisor Christian Bartulovich said in a phone interview.

According to the Pennsylvania budget and policy center, the state share of funding of K-12 schools has been declining since the 1970’s. Local municipalities have had to raise property taxes to pick up the slack. Summit Hill councilman David Wargo says Panther Valley School District’s budget proposed raising the property tax rate to 11 mills.

“Eventually it backs off a little bit but that’s scary because 11 mills, if people start losing their homes at that rate, the boroughs and the townships who support those school districts and are served by those school districts will start to lose their tax base as well,” Wargo said.

Wargo got Summit Hill to pass a resolution in support of equality for the fair funding of Pennsylvania school districts and started rallying other municipalities in Carbon County to do the same.

Bartulovich says school districts just aren’t getting the funding they need from the state, but they can’t keep raising property taxes.

“If they continue to raise property taxes over time, people are not going to be able to afford them, they’re not going to be able to afford to live in their homes,” Bartulovich said.

State Representative Jerry Knowles responded to Summit Hill’s letter saying during this budget process, House leadership will continue to focus on funding education programs in a financially feasible and sustainable manner.

Mahoning Township supervisors passed the resolution unanimously Wednesday evening. Representative Knowles in his response, assured council members full and fair funding for education will be a priority this legislative session.

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