Searching for untapped money sources, the Tredyffrin Easttown School District is taking a close look at tax exempt properties in every corner of the district.
District officials are looking for ways to close a projected budget deficit of just over $2M for the 2013-2014 school year without seeking an exemption from the state to raise taxes more than 1.7 percent.
One way the district is going to search for money is by asking tax-exempt property owners throughout the district to certify that any property claimed as tax exempt is actually being used for qualified tax-exempt purposes.
District administrators told members of the School Board Finance Committee there could be anywhere from $0-$10 million in tax money tied up in tax-exempt properites that may not actually qualify for tax exempt status.
Board Facilities Committee Chariman Pete Motel said the district is hoping to conduct a voluntary compliance approach to reviewing tax exempt status. "we want to review the properties and have them say yeah, we're tax exempt."
"It's really part of doing our due dilligence." District Finance Director Art McDonnell told the Finance Committee members.
Once Chester County determines that a property qualifies as tax-exempt it doesn't normally get reviewed again. The school district is planning to ask all the property owners simply to confirm that they still qualify for tax exempt status.
Timeline for the voluntary audit process
The district will receive a tax assessment report on properties located within the T/E School District and identify properties marked as tax-exempt. The district will also draft a letter and questionnaire to be sent to property owner to confirm tax-exempt property use.
February 11, 2013
- Distribute letter and questionnaire for discussion at February Finance Committee meeting
- Mail letters and questionnaire on February 15, 2013 with a requested return date of April 1, 2013
March 11, 2013
- Send reminder to those tax exempt property owners who have not respnded
April 1, 2013-July 31, 2013
- In consultation with Tredyffrin/Easttown School District counsel designated for assessment appeals, review and determine properties to file appeals.
By August 1, 2013
- File appeals for those identified tax exempt properties with Chester County Board of Assessment..