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Brian, Home Buyer in Norristown, PA

What are the property tax parameters that make Drexel Hill & Wallingford taxes so high?

Asked by Brian, Norristown, PA Wed Dec 12, 2007

Especially in comparison to places like Wayne & Bryn Mawr?

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Please note: none of the places you mentioned are actual municipalities and thus lack any taxing authority. Drexel Hill is merely a neighborhood in Upper Darby Township. Wallingford is a section of Nether Providence Township. Wayne is a section of Radnor TOwnship. Bryn Mawr is a "village" which lies part in Lower Merion Township and part in Radnor Township. So to answer your question you need to consider the relevant municpality and school district rather than the neighborhood. Drexel Hill is high because the school district (Upper Darby) is so big as is the township. Upper Darby has nearly 100,000 residents. Also, many families in West Philly try and game the system by renting a rowhome with other familes in Bywood, Stonehurst, etc. for the purposes of sending their kids to the UD schools. Upper Darby has a lot of services to provide: trash, highway maintenance, police, schools, etc. Their millage is therefore high and because the Drexel Hill section has some of the more highly assessed residential properties, they have seemingly higher taxes. Nether Providence on the other hand is a small but affluent township. Nether Providence sits within the ficticiously named Wallingford-Swarthmore School District. This is a highly rated school district that serves a much smaller population than Lower Merion, Radnor, and Upper Darby, and therefore the cost per student is spread over less taxable properties.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 12, 2007
I used to live in Drexel Hill (Upper Darby township) but moved because of my job. I liked the area and housing, but the taxes were significantly higher than neighboring townships when I moved about 13 years ago. I lived there for 19 years, and proportionately the school and township taxes increased at a more rapid rate than most other townships. At the same time, township services, such as trash pickup, were reduced (when I moved there, trash was picked up twice a week). I know in many areas, twice a week trash pickup has been reduced to once a week, but has been replaced by a weekly recycling pickup. The trash pickup reduction was a number of years prior to the State mandate to pick up recycling, which when instituted was twice a month in Upper Darby (Note: Trash fee was a separate charge from the County, Township, and School taxes when I was there). Regardless of many respondents blaming the problem on West Philadelphia, which due to proximity of the township was always there with its problems,the tax problem existed long before now. I provide the following reasons that are the real causes for the high taxes:
1. As an older township and virtually no open space for new development, there are limited new sources to increase tax revenues. Costs for teachers salaries, police and fire, trash pickup and other services continue to rise, but there are few new sources to deal with the growth of these costs.
2. Declining tax base: Upper Darby continues to lose its commercial tax base, which increases the burden on making up that lost revenue by increasing taxes on remaining commercial establishments and residential property to run the various government services. This has driven out more affluent residents and encouraged a number of commercial establishments to do business elsewhere.
3.Local government unequipped: The caliber of local politicians is poor and nepotism is high. The people running the government are not forward thinkers or problem solvers and never addressed the viability and survival of an aging community. It was evident when I lived there, politicians and administrators operated and spent taxpayer dollars on cronyism and nepotism instead of long term solutions. There was never any long term planning that addressed the need for change to prevent further deterioration of the tax base and improve the quality of life in the township. Contracts and jobs are given to relatives and friends (it always amazed me as to how many school board members were related to people who received jobs in the school district when competition for such jobs was very high). Poor and ineffective government is entrenched.
Some of the problems of high taxes are inherent due to the age of the community. But the direction taken by the leaders of Upper Darby Government and School District over the past 30 years, either due to their incapability to deal with complex issues or their lack of desire to make decisions to address the long term needs for survival, contributed significantly to the downward spiral of its tax base. As indicated above, a dwindling tax base and increased taxes present other problems for attracting new residents and businesses.
Again, I have fond memories of living in Drexel Hill. The location was pretty convenient for where I worked most of my time there. The neighborhood and housing were nice, and it was fairly convenient to other parts of the region once the Blue Route was built. But, in retrospect, my prediction for the tax base and taxes appears to have been dead on, which certainly has exacerbated any opportunity for revival. You cannot address the problems by ignoring them and pretending they will right themselves over time.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 21, 2012
Drexel Hill is part of Upper Darby Township. Upper Darby School District is the second largest school district in Pennsylvania. There is 1 Kindergarten Center, 6 Elementary schools 2 middle schools and 1 High School. That is why the taxes in Drexel Hill or Upper Darby are so high.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 2, 2011
Here are the reasons: It's a vastly over-abused school system by neighboring West Philly. Thus, overtaxed businesses left Upper Darby township in favor of towns with a lower tax burden (ex. Broomall). Those who are left behind take on some of the burden. So now UD's tax base is gone for the most part and all that's left are the residents. Assessments are not fair by the township, and DH gets taxed far higher because of it.

What do DH residents get in return?

Falling home prices, a crumbling school system and entrenched politicians who have, for the last 30 years utterly betrayed their constituents. Instead of cracking down and sending out of town kids back to their own school systems, the politicians looked the other way, the teachers union looked the other way and too many residents looked the other way. Add to all of this the rising crime rate of UD Township, especially those areas of UD where their perimeter touches Philly and Lansdowne, and it's amazing that anyone is left.

Remember, during the apex of the Housing Bubble, DH along with UD saw their home values go down while the rest of the country went the other way. In a recession, buying a home in Drexel Hill could be disastorous for a young couple with children. This exactly explains the exodus to Broomall and Springfield, not to mention the suburbs of South Jersey.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 30, 2011
Just so you know Drexel Hill is Upper Darby. They pay taxes to the same people that Stonehurst, Highland Park, Beverly Hills sections of Upper Darby pay. Some of the houses in the Drexel Hill section are larger, nicer , etc and their taxes are assessed accordingly.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 31, 2008
David's answer does not make any sense. Drexel Hill is not a municipality. It is merely a neighborhood in Upper Darby Township and Upper Darby Schools. Drexel Hill does not have any of its own services nor does it have its own government. People that think it is a separate place are stupid. Go to the county webiste and try and search for a tax record for a municipality entitled "Drexel Hill." You won't find any becuase it does not exist. Therefore, there is the same tax millage in all of Upper Darby and the fact that you are in Drexel Hill does not mean that you pay more tax per mil, rather becuase the assessments are higher in the Drexel Hill section of Upper Darby (becuase they are larger and sell for more) versus the assessments in, say, Stonehurst (small row homes). There is no difference in millage, solely a difference in assessments.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 11, 2008
I'm not sure but taxes seem to be relatively lower in Newtown Square, Broomall, and Haverford.
However the property prices are relatively higher.
Web Reference: http://gmacproperties.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 28, 2008
Wallingford/Swarthmore schools are one of the Highest school districks in the State and even the Nation but Drexel/Upper Darby is high just because of a tax need not because the school is superior.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 15, 2008
I'm not sure why the taxes in Drexel Hill are so high, but come on...you can't just say that because they have "a lot of services to provide" (basic services) that taxes are high in drexel hill. Upper Darby, from which the upper darby school district comes from, doesnt have taxes comparable to Drexel Hill's...so Drexel Hill is left flipping most of the bill. Why, because upper darby mooches off drexel hill in return for Drexel Hill using their high school. If it werent for that, id say d-hill should start it's own school district. The west philly problem is real. The people coming from west philly want to send their children to a better school. These are children that start trouble. I've heard this from people working there that the situation is worse now than 5 years ago. The Upper Darby School District has been in decline for quite some time now and should continue to spiral downward the way of inner city schools
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 6, 2008
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