Friday, October 16, 2015

Taxes, Dollars and Tax Dollars

More evidence that the Pottstown Schol Board is not yet set on adopting a town-wide tax break for those who improve commercial property, was made plain during Thursday night's discussion of the proposed LERTA district, which is likely to be tabled Monday.

Board Vice President Andrew Kefer, who followed in the footsteps of the now resigned Judyth Zahora by running the meeting from a speaker phone, said discussion of the matter at a recent finance committee meeting was "divisive."

Board member Thomas Hylton indicated that he has done some research on LERTAs, which stands for Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, and found there are many varieties.

He said he would like more information, "in writing," from the borough and Steve Bamford, who, as executive director of PAID, is the borough's de-facto economic development director and an advocate for the enactment of the LERTA.

Hylton's call for more detail was echoed by Polly Weand and Mary-Beth Bacallao, the last of whom advocated for goals and a way to measure the effectiveness of the program if enacted.

Bamford said while there is no statewide analysis of the program, a recent conference of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission did address the matter and offered up several case studies, which locally included Quakertown and Caln.

The board also looked favorably on adopting, as it always has in the past, a resolution pledging not to exceed the state tax index when adopting next year's budget.

This year's index is 3.4 percent, the highest Pottstown has ever seen, said Business Manager Linda Adams.

The board members present -- only five if you include Keefer's telephonic presence -- tastefully resisted the temptation to comment on following arcane state-imposed budget procedures at a time when the state is midway through its fourth month of being late with its own budget.

Do as I say, not as I do I suppose.

The board also heard a quick presentation on a plan to re-finance just under $10 million of its $13 million debt in order to collect nearly $400,000 in interest savings.

Here are the Tweets from the meeting, along with a few helpful links to Mercury articles which offer  background on the matters under discussion.

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