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July 2, 2014

County homeowners to receive relief on property taxes

NEW CASTLE — Thanks to gaming revenue, more than 24,000 Lawrence County homeowners will receive relief on school property taxes this year.

Homeowners will receive the tax breaks by way of Pennsylvania’s Taxpayer Relief Act of 2006, which provides reductions to people who qualify for homestead or farmstead exemptions.

The exact number of homeowners who have qualified is 24,286, according to J.R. Hardester, chief county assessor.

The tax relief is funded with gaming revenue from casinos throughout Pennsylvania.

The tax cuts will range from $218.28 for homeowners in the New Castle Area School District to $68.38 for those in the Neshannock Township School District.

Homeowners will see the reductions in their tax bills, which should be mailed this month.

Following are the reductions, by school district, that owners of homestead properties will receive, according to Hardester:

•Blackhawk — $171.02

•Ellwood City — $171.89

•Laurel — $162.25

•Mohawk — $162.03

•Neshannock — $68.39

•New Castle — $218.28

•Shenango — $189.60

•Union — $152.74

•Wilmington — $146.36

This year’s reduction per homeowner is slightly less than last year’s in the county.

New Castle homeowners, for example, received a reduction of $225.18 in taxes last year.

Joseph Ambrosini, New Castle school district business manager, explained the numbers are lower because more homeowners have qualified for the exemptions this year.

The reduction per homeowner is determined essentially by dividing the state allocation for a district by the number of property owners in the district who have qualified for the exemption.

A total of $616.2 million derived from gaming funds has been allocated to the state’s 500 school districts this year.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education determined each district’s allocation on various factors, including local tax effort.

To qualify for a homestead exemption, a property must be the permanent primary residence of the homeowner.

Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on a building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers are eligible to apply for both a homestead and a farmstead.

Once people apply for an exemption and qualify, they do not need to apply again.


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