Property Tax Tipping Point

property taxes

I think it is time to hold some community forums to discuss Avalon, Bellevue, and Northgate. Why? We desperately need our school board and borough councils in the same room to talk money and property taxes. Northgate really has no other alternative but to raise taxes, but we’re at the tipping point of doing more harm than good. How is it so?

My wife and I have been casually shopping for a house for two years. We want to stay in Bellevue, where we love walking with our dog and daughter and found a church that fulfills us beyond our expectations. But the reality is we can have a similar home for less money in a more reputable school district. In some cases a MUCH better school district if we’re willing to sacrifice a walking community and small schools. We are losing those families willing to give up some small town feel for results – especially if they’re cheaper. Northgate is a decent school district – but we’ve fallen behind our neighbors.

I crunched the numbers to calculate the annual tax bill for a $150,000 house in some of the districts in the North Hills:
Avonworth: $4,130
North Allegheny: $3,530
North Hills: $3,876
Northgate: $5,145

If a young family is stuck between a house on Dawson Avenue in Bellevue (Northgate SD) and Clarion Avenue in Ross (North Hills SD), they will save over $100/month on their taxes by buying the house in Ross/North Hills. If Northgate raises taxes and North Allegheny stays the same (which is the projection), you could save $150/month and live in one of the best districts in the state.

These Northgate forums need to generate ideas on how to spur investment in our real estate to improve property values and hold off future property tax increases. Unless the funding model changes – and that’s an issue that must be dealt with at the state level – I don’t see how Northgate can survive. If the call to action is not made – the Northgate school board should probably call the board at North Hills to discuss a merger.

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7 Responses to “Property Tax Tipping Point”

  1. I agree with the merger idea. With North Hills or is the City of Pittsburgh a possibility? The citizenry can no longer absorb the cost of NSD. The community is simply not affluent enough.

    • Bill, I can’t see the City absorbing us – and frankly I don’t think that’s a good idea. The City schools are in an even worse predicament than Northgate – they have stagnant tax revenue and a declining population. A consolidation with Pittsburgh Public would mean our students would attend Perry High School – which has declined rapidly since it lost its stature in consolidations. Greatschools.org, a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation project, rates Perry at 2 out of 10 based on state test scores. Northgate is rated at 5 out of 10. Avonworth and North Hills each earned 8 out of 10 and North Allegheny 9 out of 10.

  2. OK. Pittsburgh is out. I agree based on your presentation. And North Hills probably won’t have us unless forced to. Some day the school district may simply have to go into bankruptcy and state receivership and/or let the bankruptcy court make any determinations. So reducing costs seems the only way around this predicament and I don’t believe the school board has any stomach for what’s really required (and maybe what the law disallows based on union contracts). Reducing administrative staff is a start. Larger class sizes are an option with a coprresponding reduction in teacher staff. Hiring part time without benefits is an option. I just can’t wrap my head around this idea that large class sizes are bad. When I was in grade school in the mid 1950’s thru 1962 or so we always had class sizes of 50 to 65 students and we were way more advanced academically than today’s school children (We have a child in grade school so we can easily make a comparison). I suspect union propaganda and influence has much to do with the small class size issue (small classes, more teachers, more union dues). While attending college at Pitt I frequently had class sizes of 100+ students. Students don’t need more personal attention they need to pay attention more.

    I would propose that Greatschools.org ratings reflect the students and parents of a geographical area rather than the teaching institutions. Perry, for instance, good teachers, good facilities, disinterested kids, disinterested and indifferent parents, still bad test scores. What can you expect? Although I don’t disagree with the ratings.

  3. I agree with the poster. Taxes are an issue..higher local tax and high school taxes are becoming a concern. There is a tipping point… My taxes comprise nearly $500 dollars of my monthly mortgage. Even after we own the place the taxes will probably be as much as my mortgage. My wife and I have been casually shopping for a few years now. I always say this place has potential, but often I am disappointed by many of the decisions made. 15 min commute, walking community, big houses for the money only go so far. I heard today they are teaching 2 levels of foreign language out of the same class. Study halls with grades 7-12??? Casual shopping is now active.

  4. I think a merger is inevitable, the question is, how many years away are we? I would rather see NG get absorbed into North Hills. The Pittsburgh Public schools are projected to go bankrupt by 2016.

  5. Getting outdated now but somebody still might find the study interesting.
    http://lbfc.legis.state.pa.us/reports/2007/290.PDF
    The funding for a child’s education needs to follow the child/parent, and more importantly, it is time to eliminate the school property tax by replacing it with a more modern, fair, sensible funding method truly based on one’s ability to pay. The current “positive feedback system” of funding our school districts from the property tax is the reason why communities like Bellevue will almost never recover. Most families with the means will simply just move instead of investing in a community like Bellevue.
    Cheers!
    http://www.ptcc.us/solution.htm

  6. Just a follow up. Met with a realtor today. The biggest obstacles to selling a house in Bellevue…. The taxes and school district. Go figure… Oh yes, and passing code enforcement for trivial things was a major challenge for sellers. Sort of like the mafia. When you get in you pay a cost to get out.

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