I am the president of one of 71 property taxpayers' associations throughout Pennsylvania, including seven in the Times Leader and Go Lackawanna circulation area.
I am well aware of the problems municipalities are having with special interests that do not pay property taxes but still receive public services, such as police and fire protection. If they are not paying for these services, then the taxpayers are also paying for their share of services.
Also, our current system of school funding is crumbling. This decay has been occurring for many years and continues to escalate. Home foreclosures and tax sales are occurring at an expanding rate and the home market is at a standstill.
There is a better approach.
House Bill 1776 and Senate Bill 1400, the Property Tax Independence Act, offer the only hope for all Pennsylvania homeowners to truly own their homes, improve school financing, and improve economic development without increasing property taxes.
Instead of property taxes, education would be funded through an increase of the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, as well as an expansion of the sales tax base.
The personal income tax rate would also increase from 3.07 percent to 3.99 percent, a dollar-for-dollar trade-off for eliminating a percentage of the EIT and local nuisance taxes.
It's time to rise up and eliminate the property tax in Pennsylvania. It's time to help homeowners, to make a better state school system to benefit all students, and concurrently increase economic development.
For more information, please go to the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition website at www.ptcc.us/pcta.htm.
President, Scranton & Lackawanna County Taxpayers' Association, Inc.
While there is no clock in baseball, there is one in the local political game involving the public ownership of the local professional franchise.
In fact, the game is well into overtime, when the contest of wills should have been over long ago.
Well over five years ago, an agreement was made to sell the franchise to the current privately-held management group, Yankees Mandalay. Yet, to date, the deal has not been consummated and the current Lackawanna County Commissioners are obviously stonewalling the closing as they do not want the sale to be finalized.
This year is the last for the current player development contract with the New York Yankees, and the commissioners' strategy is obvious: hold out long enough so the Yankees will fail to renew the agreement and move the team to another area. The county is guaranteed another team will move in as per the franchise contract with the International League.
I completely disagree with Commissioner Corey O'Brien's contention that government needs to do everything in its power to protect baseball in Lackawanna County. With the county tens of millions in debt with a recent 38 percent tax increase, it's time to sever the ties to baseball, sell the team, and raze – not renovate – the stadium.
The issue should be place on a binding referendum in the November election. Let the taxpayers decide if they truly want baseball "saved."
Of course, Commissioner O'Brien and his ilk know the answer to that question, which is why they'll never allow it to appear on the ballot.