County Tax Increase Discussion Points
This will serve as a discussion point and explanation of the 1.25 mil tax increase imposed by the Perry County Board of Commissioners by a 2-1 vote.
The last time any adjustments were made in county taxes was in 2010. In 2010, the county’s expenditures were $18.7 million. The 2021 expenditure budget is $21.9 million. The difference between this span is $3.2 million. Each mil of tax in Perry County generates $3 million in tax revenue.
The commissioners do understand that it a huge jump in one year, however we were left no choice since there were no incremental tax increases during that 10-year period.
The increase in assessed value of real estate with new housing construction and improvements during that period of time expanded, however, changing factors of operating the county government over the same period exceeded the growth of the tax base.
Among the leading drivers include, but is not limited to, the following:
• Wages have gone up an average of 4% per year driven by a 10% increase in wages in 2018 alone due to realignment of job descriptions.
• Generous union negotiation awards of benefits driven by mandated arbitration board rulings
• Health Insurance has risen 7.5% per year.
• State and federal funding sources refusal to adjust funding reimbursements to programs that the county is charged with administering to residents. Some of those reimbursements have not changed in this 10-year period, therefore the county bares the cost of the difference.
Despite rising operation costs, past administrations voted down tax increases, and when a negative revenue evolved three years ago, reserve funds were used to balance a budget. That option is no longer available. Therefore, this administration had no choice but to make the difficult decision to raise taxes.
Comparatively speaking, Perry County school district taxes have risen 2.03 mils versus the county tax increase to 1.25 mils. Obviously, the big difference has been a gradual increase that school boards approved versus delaying a county increase over the 10-year period by various Board of Commissioners.
For some of our constituents, we have been accused of becoming a tax and spend Board of Commissioners. It is true that this Board, the same as past Boards, remain vigilant in the upkeep of the oldest court house with a continuous court of law in PA at 198 years of age. Furthermore, our offices and 22 departments are scattered in five buildings, the newest being 48 years old. Serious consideration needs to be made to appropriate funds to renovate and expand an existing building to house departments that are in in rented facilities that is costing $100,000 in tax dollars.
In conjunction with this, the torch has been past to this Board of Commissioners by past Boards to continue and expand efficiencies including, but not limited to:
• Consolidation of jobs.
• Hiring part-time or temporary versus full time.
• Automation of duties, and alternative ways of operating.
• Co-workers are now contributing, on an escalating yearly scale, for health insurance, and deductibles will be doubled.
• Seeking grant funding.
• Supporting an active economic development agency to expand our tax base.
• Networking with our peers throughout the state are also some of the many efforts that continue to pique our interest.
• Refurbishing several vehicles, and, where possible, purchased used vehicles rather than replacing with new.
• Supporting the Perry County Literacy Council which actively streams citizens from social programs into the work force.
We agree with you that the timing could not have been worse. We agree that this is a huge adjustment in your tax bill, and the impact it has in your personal budget. We wish there was a better solution to the dilemma, however due to the property tax of home and land owner system that includes County Commissioners, we were left with no other option, including continuing to operate the county by borrowing an additional three million dollars from the reserve funds.