(HARRISBURG) – – Legislation sponsored by state Sen. John R. Gordner (R-27) to reform the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) has passed the Senate. Senate Bill 1546 brings STEB under the state Department of Community and Economic Development for oversight of its operations and requires important STEB Board reforms.
Because of the Constitutional requirement for uniform taxation, it is necessary that locally assessed millage is equalized when entities, such as school districts, encompass municipalities in multiple counties. It is STEB’s responsibility to conduct this equalization on an annual basis.
In 2010, there were numerous cases throughout the state where STEB incorrectly determined market values within municipalities, resulting in wrong data in many of the school districts that require multi-county tax equalization. While some of these problems were caused by obsolete computer programs, there was an additional problem of lack of oversight by the STEB board, currently consisting of three Commonwealth residents who are nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.
The legislation requires the STEB board to hold a hearing at the request of any municipality or school district aggrieved by any finding and will also require the board to immediately review any finding that shows market values increasing or decreasing by ten percent or more when compared to the previous year.
“I have been working with the STEB board members and the Administration on this legislation to help correct these deficiencies. By bringing the Board under the oversight of the Department, it should have more resources to do its necessary work, and the reforms will ensure any future errors will be caught at the inception of the process, not at the end,” said Senator Gordner.
Senator Gordner noted that the Board has updated its computer programming and made some personnel changes following the problems that surfaced in 2010.
Senate Bill 1546 now moves to the House of Representatives.