School property tax reform.
It's one thing most of us in York County can agree is desperately needed, even if we don't see eye to eye on how to accomplish it.
Any tax reform plan also should address side issues such as the state's inequitable school funding formula, unsustainable pensions and unfunded mandates. And, of course, it can't shortchange public education.
Until the Legislature gets its act together well, at least we're all in the same boat, right?
Some people just don't pay their taxes.
In the York Suburban School District, for instance, about 5 percent of the money its owed isn't collected on time, according to Joel Sears, a school board member and president of York County Taxpayers Council.
In fact, much of that money is never collected, he said, and the school district enters the next year with a deficit that's closed by increasing taxes.
That means taxpayers are supporting not only the school district, but also those who don't pay their share.
Talk about adding insult to injury
It's not fair, and state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, hopes to put an end to it.
He's writing legislation to create a new "Delinquent Tax Intercept Authority" to help local taxing bodies, including school districts, collect on debts by seizing part of delinquent taxpayers' state and federal income tax refunds.
Grove said the proposal is an expansion of an existing agreement through which the state and federal governments collaborate to collect income taxes. That agreement generates about $33 million per year for the state.
He estimated the proposed expansion would generate $154 million for school districts statewide. York County and all local municipalities, including York City and townships and boroughs, could use the authority to collect delinquent taxes, Grove said.
School districts now can compel people to pay, such as by forcing a tax sale of their property. But if no one buys it, the property still won't bring in tax money, Grove said.
This way, if the delinquent taxpayer is owed a state or federal refund, the school district gets its money and the owner keeps his property.
It sounds good to us.
Many people struggle under this burden, but most people still pay their local taxes. They might howl and demand reform, but they pay.
Why should a few get a pass when it's clear they can cover their share?