HARRISBURG - Legislation to reform the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) has unanimously passed the Senate, according to the bill's sponsor, Sen. John R. Gordner (R-27). Gordner introduced Senate Bill 66 in response to inaccurate data forwarded by STEB to local school districts and municipalities.

"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," said Gordner.

In 2010, STEB incorrectly determined market values within several municipalities statewide, resulting in wrong data in as many of 50 of the 89 school districts that require multi-county tax equalization. While some of these problems were caused by obsolete computer programs that have been replaced, Gordner said some problems were caused by STEB staff and were not recognized by STEB board members, who serve part-time and are private citizens appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.

"I have been working with the STEB board members and the administration on this legislation to help correct these deficiencies. My bill moves STEB from an independent board to a division within the Department of Community and Economic Development," Gordner said. "This should provide the proper oversight for the board.

"Additionally, the board will be required to hold a hearing at the request of any municipality or school district aggrieved by any finding. Most importantly, the legislation will require the STEB board to immediately review any finding that shows market values increasing or decreasing by ten percent or more when compared to the previous year," the senator said.

Senate Bill 66 now moves to the House of Representatives.