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Harrisburg School Board proposes nearly 10% tax hike - abc27 WHTM

Harrisburg School Board proposes nearly 10% tax hike

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Another game of pass the buck? Harrisburg taxpayers say, yes. A proposed property tax hike of nearly 10% has several residents feeling like a pawn.

Death and taxes, two things you can always count on in the game of life. Monday night was no exception. Harrisburg School Board members rolled the dice and proposed a 9.7% increase in school taxes next year.

Taxpayer and longtime resident Vettie Marshall said if taxes go any high it may be game over.

"Harrisburg is...the land of the taxes," she said.

Marshall said the board members' idea to close the budget gap could really harm her personal budget. City Controller and professional accountant Dan Miller helped abc27 break down the numbers.

Miller used an average Harrisburg property value of $100,000 as an example. A property owner paying the current rate of .026965% owes $2,696 in taxes for 2013. If the 9.7% increase were passed, the rate would jump to .029581% or $2,958 in owed property taxes. That's a one-year increase of $261.

Did you follow that? Good.

Harrisburg property owner Craig Shagin said tax increases are fine; it's our patriotic duty. But even Shagin said he has limits.

"I wouldn't mind if the product you got at the end of the day was really something wonderful," he said. "But, I look at the school district and I'm asking myself...what are they producing that's worth that extra increase? What are we paying for?"

School officials argue the extra cash would help fill their massive financial gaps. The district is $437 million in debt and has a budget deficit around $11 million. But, Chief Recovery Officer Gene Veno admitted even with a tax boost of 9.7%, Harrisburg Schools are stuck with a $5 million hole.

"They're looking for the easy way out," said Marshall." And that's not fair to the public."

Marshall has concerns the public may retaliate they only way they can—move out.

"[School board members] should think about that when they go to their table," said Marshall. "Think about the ones that want to buy houses, can't buy homes because they keep raising their taxes. And they're going to go some place else where it's cheaper."

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