New leadership

ROBERT KEPLER

Renovo

Do we need new leadership in Clinton County?

In the last seven years county property taxes have been increased 26 percent, my research shows. In 2013, a 15-percent increase and in 2016 an 11-percent increase came. The seven-year average is 3.71 percent per year. Add these increases to Keystone Central School Districts almost yearly property tax increases and Clinton county has become unfriendly to homeowners and buyers.

The commissioners were looking at a blight tax (Express Jan. 2017). This tax would have been $15 for every deed recorded at the county Recorder of Deeds office. Money would be used for tearing down blighted properties. If not for The Express being against this tax I believe it would have been implemented. Remember the $5 tax Jeff Snyder supported for every vehicle registered in the county? (Express July 2018) We were told the money was needed for roads and bridges, but as it turned out the county doesn’t own any roads and only two bridges. If it wasn’t for the outcry from the public on this tax I believe it would have passed.

Mr. Snyder is all for taxing the sale of timber and natural gas to out of county entities at 10 precent (Express June 26, 2018). Snyder thinks the county, school district and municipalities should each get 10 percent of the sales. What would this do to the price of wood products and home heating?

Snyder and Pete Smeltz joined with tax-fairness advocates and lobbied Harrisburg to raise the Payment- In- Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) (Express May 12, 2015). They wanted the state to pay more for state-owned land because the state now owns 60 percent of the county. The PILOT was increased from $3.60 to $6 per acre. Not only have your property taxes gone up because of the state acquiring more land, the taxpayer has to pay more for state-owned land! The commissioners should have fought to stop the buyout of private property because it is the destruction of wealth.

The commissioners borrowed $6 million to buy and renovate the Piper Blue building and renovate and upgrade the county prison (Express Jan 27, 2017). The cost for the Piper building was $950,000 plus $290,00 for renovations, fiber optic and security. Total cost: $1,240,000. The reason for buying: A “growing county government,” said Commissioner Snyder (Express Dec. 2, 2016).

The only problem with this way of thinking is the population of the county has been stagnate for years and there are a lot less jobs now than 40 years ago, so why has government continued to grow? In 2017 the new first-responders training center opened in Flemington (Express Aug. 26, 2017). “Not one cent of tax dollars” was spent on equipment or renovations, Snyder said. The money came from the court supervision fees fund and a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Sorry Mr. Snyder but the money that came from the PCCD is all tax dollars from the state and federal government!

The Express “Hitting the trail” March 21 2019: “Jeff Snyder says very little tax dollars were used on this trail.” I disagree. Almost every dollar spent on this rail-trail so far was taxpayers money. The million dollars for the railroad bridge was ACT 89 money, all taxpayers’ money! Month of May 2018, $255,357 spent from the general fund for engineering services, fencing and installation and another $ 87,000 was paid to Pine Creek Township for grading of the trail. Another $300,000 has been set aside in the 2019 county budget for the trail.

The county started a bus service at a cost of $364,423 a year. With 85 percent of the cost (taxpayers money) coming from PennDOT (Express Aug. 29, 2017). Most of the other 15 percent comes from the county taxpayer. One reason for the bus? People can’t afford a car and a home. Great!

The Express Dec. 1, 2017, County: “No tax increase for budget.” Between 2012 and 2017 county government has created between 20 and 26 new positions. The Express Dec. 5, 2017, “Clinton Commissioners want to slow county growth.” Commissioners say there is a upward spending trend in county government. “It’s like a freight train out of control.” The Express Feb. 8, 2018, “commissioners talk overspending at the county prison.” The article states that they have overspent and renovations were poorly planned at the prison. After talk of overspending!

The Express May 25, 2018, “County maintenance gets well deserved raise.” The Express Dec. 21, 2018, “Clinton County finalizes 2019 budget, many get raises.” These raises cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars, some salaries were increased by over $8,000 a year. The Express April 29, 2019, Legal notices: Bids being taken for stainless steel showers at the county prison. This is after $4 million and they are still spending. The Express, April 30 2019, Legal notices: Bids being taken for a 24ft. x 40ft. pavilion at the county Piper building. I’m glad to see the commissioners are reigning in spending!

The commissioners say all of this spending, taxing and growing government is all being done for you the taxpayer! The Piper building purchase was done for you so the county government can be more efficient. The spending at the prison was done for you because it would make a better community. The rail trail is for you because they want you to live a healthier lifestyle.

All this so-called help by the county commissioners has, in my opinion, created an environment where more people are living paycheck to paycheck, with seniors in need of housing, a rise in homelessness, crime and drugs. A bus service started because some can’t afford a car and a home. A high poverty rate at 18 percent. The unemployment rate at 5.5 percent. There were 650 tax sales listed in 2017. The county relies on $30 million a year in state funding, if they don’t get that they have to raise taxes (Express Sept. 8, 2017 bus route).

All this spending by the county commissioners and they said, “County government is not responsible for the weak economy and lack of family sustaining jobs.” (Express Jan. 27, 2017 CCAP priorities).

Wow. What a mindset. What is your job? Spending? Taxing? Growing government?

Now you know some of the reasons why we need to vote for new leadership in Clinton County on May 2. Get out and vote. Your livelihood depends on it.

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