Pottsgrove Schools Consider Tax Payment Plan

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – To help make paying Pottsgrove School District-related real estate taxes less painful, its Board of School Directors tentatively agreed Tuesday (May 12, 2020) to create an extended payment option for taxpayers, and to cut by half the penalty imposed on late payments.

Directors did not immediately act on those plans, though, because state legislators are considering similar moves that could supersede their own. Instead the board delayed voting on what Superintendent Dr. William Shirk called the “real estate tax installment payment plan” until its June 9 (Tuesday) meeting.

Again Tuesday, as in other recent board and committee meetings, district administrators and school board members alike advocated school tax relief for property owners in Lower, Upper, and West Pottsgrove townships. They’re the prime source of district tax revenues, and a significant number are jobless or dealing with reduced incomes as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The board has already committed to approve a zero-tax-increase budget for the 2020-2021 academic year. Its installment plan would add another payment interval to three the district currently offers, and would lower the late penalty from 10 percent to 5 percent of taxes owed.

“We understand we’re in different times,” board President Robert Lindgren said. “We’re trying to meet our taxpayers where they are.”

In years past, after the district met its requirement to adopt a final budget by June 30, tax bills were normally issued July 1. With them:

  • It granted a 2-percent discount on the face amount of taxes due if the entire bill was paid by Aug. 31, the end of first two-month interval.
  • The face amount was due by the Oct. 31 end of the second.
  • A 10-percent late payment fee – often representing hundreds of dollars in additional expense – was tacked onto to the face amount by Dec. 31, the end of the third.

In addition to slicing the penalty, the board’s plan would insert another payment period somewhere in the mix to lessen amounts paid over time. “I’m all for that,” board Vice President Al Leach said, echoing comments of his colleagues. “We need to do anything we can do to ease the taxpayer burden.”

However, as district Business Administrator David Nester explained earlier, the gesture primarily benefits a minority of property owners who directly pay tax bills themselves because their lenders do not collect taxes with mortgage payments. Lenders that hold collected tax money in escrow usually pay tax bills in time to take advantage of the discount, he said.

Nester also noted that adding the extra installment period slightly increases district costs. It would need to print new tax bills to reflect the changes, and it would pay tax collectors in the three townships for the added mailing charges.

It was Nester, too, who suggested the board hold off approval of the plan. “There’s legislation floating through Harrisburg that may change this as well,” he cautioned.

Photo from Wallpaper Flare, used under a Creative Commons license