Districts won’t have to adjust budgets with new bill, says PDE secretary

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Education Monday released a letter that Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak has sent to all Pennsylvania
school districts in response to the General Assembly’s passage of Special Session HB 39 (SS HB 39), which delivers the largest property tax cut in
Pennsylvania history – $1 billion annually to Pennsylvania homeowners.
Pennsylvania seniors will get the most significant property tax relief through an expansion of the Property Tax Rent Rebate program.

Gov. Edward Rendell has said publicly that he will sign the legislation.

Zahorchak’s letter provides guidance to school districts on how they should proceed in adopting budgets for the 2006-07 fiscal year. SS HB 39 establishes new procedures for school districts in adopting budgets that include deadlines that have already passed for the upcoming year.

Zahorchak informed school districts that they do not need to adjust their budgeting practices at this time in light of anticipated quick action by the General Assembly to pass a second piece of legislation to address the timeline issues.

“At this time, because legislative action is expected to pass shortly that will address the budget deadlines, school districts do not need to make any
additional adjustments,” Zahorchak said.

School districts are required to adopt final budgets by June 30.

Below is the text of Secretary Zahorchak’s letter.

“Dear Superintendent:

“As I am sure you know, the General Assembly has passed Special Session House  Bill 39 which will provide homeowners with significant savings from
state-funded property tax relief – with the greatest relief going to senior  citizens – and will protect all homeowners against extraordinary future tax
increases by allowing greater voter involvement and implementing a fair referendum requirement.

“We are aware that several provisions in SS HB 39 require school districts to participate in a preliminary budget process by complying with certain
deadlines that have already occurred for the upcoming fiscal year. The General Assembly is in the process of drafting a second piece of legislation
that will address these issues. Because we anticipate quick action by the General Assembly, school districts that did not elect to participate in the
property tax relief program under Act 72 do not need to adjust their budgeting practices at this time.

“The Department will continue to provide guidance to school districts as we receive more information in the coming days. Please check our website for
updates. In addition, Department staff are prepared to provide assistance to you as your school district implements the provisions of this new law.

“Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I will continue to keep you informed of any new developments.”

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