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Do budget maximizing public officials increase the probability of property reassessment?

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County governments in Pennsylvania face non-binding limits on their property tax rates. These are considered non-binding because they do not place a limit on tax levies or expenditures. Assuming local public officials have monopoly power, tax rate limits can be circumvented by reassessing the property tax base. A two-stage process was hypothesized in which the probability of reaching tax rate limits first was determined and the probability of reassessment then was determined. The effect of budget maximizing government officials at each stage was tested for 66 Pennsylvania counties over the 1970–1995 period. The empirical results showed that variables associated with budget maximizing behaviour influenced the choice in each stage. Public expenditure growth increased the probability of reaching the tax rate limit in the first stage while reaching the tax rate limit increased the probability of reassessment in the second stage. The estimates also showed that economic, fiscal and taste variables were significant determinants of these probabilities.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Economics, 314 Still Hall, College of Business Administration, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion, PA 16214, USA, Email:

Publication date: 2005-11-10

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