Montco officials tout saving money for college

Jessica Parks of The Inquirer reports:

Montgomery County is encouraging its residents to start saving money for college this month, and it’s offering an especially sweet deal for county employees.

Employees who enroll in the state’s 529 savings plan will not have to pay the program enrollment fee, county treasurer Jason Salus said Thursday.

Salus said he’s also planning a Web seminar, open enrollment events, and, starting in January, the option of automatic paycheck deductions for county staff.

The state’s 529 Guaranteed Savings plan usually charges a $25 or $50 enrollment fee for accounts opened more than six months after a child’s birth or adoption. The 529 Investment plan has no enrollment fee. Both plans carry tax benefits.

“Nearly two-thirds of college students graduate with debt,” which is often still being repaid “long after they have completed their education,” the Montgomery County commissioners wrote in a proclamation joining Pennsylvania’s College Savings Month.

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Salus appointed to Tuition Account Program Advisory Board

From The Reporter:

Montgomery County Treasurer Jason Salus has been appointed to serve on Pennsylvania’s Tuition Account Program (TAP) Advisory Board.

The 19- member board, which includes the State Treasurer and the chancellor of the State System of Higher Education, reviews and studies the work of the Pennsylvania 529 College Savings Program, which provides Pennsylvania families with a tax-advantaged vehicle to help save for their children’s higher education. With a record-breaking 181,000 accounts and $3 billion in assets, the program plays a critical role in helping families combat the rising cost of college tuition. Salus was appointed by Pennsylvania House Speaker Sam Smith, on the recommendation of Minority Leader Frank Dermody.

Salus, whose wife Lisa is a public school teacher, was enthusiastic about the opportunity to work on higher educational finance and savings programs in the Commonwealth. “I look forward to working with leaders from across the Commonwealth to help more Pennsylvania families attain the opportunity to attend college. This is a terrific complement to my work in reforming delinquent tax collection for our Montgomery County school districts, which has resulted in dramatically accelerated collections and nearly $500,000 of savings in collections costs for our public schools this year. We need to work on all fronts to make education more accessible and affordable for Pennsylvania families.”

Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord welcomed Treasurer Salus to the board.

“Jason Salus understands the importance of higher education and training – and the importance of raising awareness about Pennsylvania’s 529 plans and related tax advantages. Jason’s keen eye for efficiency and his experience in public and private sector finance will make him a valuable member of the TAP Advisory Board, where every dollar saved or earned is a dollar that furthers someone’s higher education,” McCord said.

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“Very effective”

Tony Fioriglio of the Times Herald reports:

According to [Norristown Area School District Chief Financial Officer Anne] Rohricht, the district was able to keep its real estate tax increase below the threshold permitted by Act 1 of 2006 through a variety of revenue sources, most notably an increase in the collection of delinquent taxes after a switch in the tax collection services offered by Montgomery County.

“The new model that the county is using has proven to be very effective for school districts like the Norristown Area School District,” Rohricht said. “We are simply very pleased with the returns that we are seeing with the county tax collection services.”

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“Dramatic increase”

Tony Fioriglio of the Times Herald reports:

NORRISTOWN — The Norristown Area School District unveiled an updated version of the 2013-14 budget that contains a smaller tax increase than originally anticipated at the school board’s final budget meeting on Monday night.

In addition to increases in real estate transfer tax, the district is projecting a dramatic increase in the collection of delinquent real estate taxes after switching to a tax collection services provided by Montgomery County.

“Last November, the school district transitioned its collections back to the Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau,” said Rohricht. “There was a lot of initial hesitation. There were some concerns about effective they would be and if they would have an impact on our cash flow. Those concerns have certainly been put to rest a few times over.”

In fact, with the county collectors in place, the district is projecting a 17 percent increase in revenue, which amounts to approximately $5.8 million, although Rohricht did say that there is a possibility that amount collected could end up surpassing $6 million.

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