Clearfield County Commissioners are considering a proposal to change the way they calculate property taxes.
As Douglas Braff reports they say this change is not a tax hike but would make it easier for the county and municipalities to control their budgets.
Clearfield County Commissioners say they don’t want to raise taxes and that this proposal would give the county and municipalities within it more flexibility with balancing their budgets.
Commissioners John Sobel and David Glass sat down with me and this is how they broke down this proposal
“It is not a tax increase, it is not a change to anyone’s assessed value. All it’s doing is changing the percentage of their current assessed value that municipalities and the county and school boards would use to figure out
They emphasized repeatedly that this proposal itself will not raise people’s taxes. Although it would open the door for municipalities not the county to raise taxes on their own. It all hinges on capping milage rates.
“We’re not saying that it will or won’t result in an eventual tax increase from the municipality.”
“A lot of municipalities are at or near that cap. And so, they their ability to change their revenue streams is restricted. By making this change, obviously the mileage will go down, and then they’ll have the ability to make their own decisions about future changes.”
“This change by itself does not change taxes, it only puts the power back in the hands of the municipalities.”
If they don’t move forward with this proposal the commissioners say they fear unnecessary issues for municipalities.
“If the event ever occurs that they can’t balance their budget, even if they make cuts things of that nature then they’re forced to go to court, to ask permission to raise taxes, which is very complicated and expensive.”
The commissioners also say they are only considering the proposal right now and are waiting for public input. But this proposal is far from being a new concept.
“Most counties either do 50% or 100% already. We’re at 25. So, this is a problem other counties have avoided by already making this change years ago.”
Glass says Elk and Centre counties are at 50% while Indiana, Jefferson, and Cambria are at 100%.
But why do this now?
“We’re doing it because these are the kinds of things you have to plan ahead for.”
“And I think it’s good governance to think more than just what’s right in front of your nose. Let’s make sure we’re prepared for four or five years from now.”
Inflation and gas prices have risen and it has impacted millions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that over the past year inflation climbed to seven percent. The highest since 1982.
“We go to the grocery store like everybody else does. We see the cost of items. We see how much gas is costing now. We do understand that.”
“Again, government is facing a lot of the same challenges that families and individuals are nowadays. And so, we have to at least consider it.”
The commissioners tell me they expect a decision to be made on this by the end of this year.
Again, the commissioners stress this is only a proposal and they want to hear feedback from the public. Reporting from Clearfield. I’m Douglas Braff.