Act 1: Part I – Tax Study Commission (Cont.)

Yesterday, I wrote about the requirement, under Act 1, that Pennsylvania school districts create and fill a Local Tax Study Commission.  Today, we will discuss what that Commission will look like and what it will do.

Initially, it is important to note that the District must provide the necessary resources to support the Tax Study Commission.  Therefore, the District should supply the resources of the Business Manager, Superintendent, and Solicitor to this Commission.  It is recommended that a Charter, much like by-laws, be prepared for the Tax Study Commission to provide its operating procedures and address such issues as who the Commission may call upon from the District for resources.

The law then provides that the Tax Study Commission is charged with studying the existing percentages of revenues for various taxes in order to adopt a non-binding recommendation to the School Board regarding a proposed required referendum on how the District will raise its revenue (i.e. property tax versus income taxes). The Tax Study Commission must provide this non-binding Resolution within ninety days of the appointment of the Tax Study Commission. It is important to note that the ninety-day period runs from the appointment of the Commission, not from September 14, 2006 (the deadline for appointment).

It is likely that the Tax Study Commission is subject to the Sunshine Act, and thus, minutes of their meetings must be transcribed, and meetings must be advertised under usual Sunshine Act provisions. Act I also requires that the Tax Study Commission must hold at least one public hearing prior to its adoption of the proposed Resolution to the School Board. It is recommended that the Charter of the Tax Study Commission define what will be the “minutes” of the Commission. For example, I recommend that personal notes of Commission members not be included in the minutes and the minutes address what exhibits have been generated by the Commission.

Once the proposed non-binding Resolution of the Tax Study Commission is submitted to the School Board, the School Board then must adopt or reject the recommendation of the Local Tax Study Commission.

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