The Pennsylvania Department of Education released late last week Act 1 indices to approximately 500 districts to tell them how high they may raise real estate taxes in the 2019-20 school year.
The Act 1 index is used to determine the maximum tax increase percentage a district can levy before going to a ballot referendum or filing a referendum exception with the state.
Seven districts in the county will be held at the Act 1 base level of 2.3 percent, which drops .1 percentage points from 2018-19: Garnet Valley; Haverford; Marple Newtown; Radnor; Rose Tree Media; Springfield and Wallingford-Swarthmore.
The eight other districts saw their respective indices drop .1 points in correlation with the drop in the base index: Chester Upland, 3.7; Chichester, 3.1; Interboro, 3.1; Penn-Delco, 2.8; Ridley, 3; Southeast Delco, 3.4; Upper Darby, 3.3; and William Penn, 3.4. Southeast Delco actually dropped .2 points from 2018-19
Districts have free reign to raise taxes any amount up to their index.
If a school district wishes to raise taxes a percentage over its mandated index, it can be voted on by district residents through referendum, or a referendum exception may be filed with the state if the need to raise taxes higher due to retirement contributions, special education expenditures or school construction debt. Filing for an exception does not automatically mean a district will ultimately raise taxes over the index.
Created in 2006, the Act 1 index was signed into law to “ease the financial burden of home ownership by providing school districts the means to lower property taxes to homeowners” by way of gaming revenues.