Two members of the Carbon County Tax Collection Committee are pushing forward in an attempt to change how the committee's votes are counted.
During the monthly meeting of the committee, Penn Forest Township Supervisors Alan S. Katz, the township's delegate on the committee, and Paul Montemuro, the township's alternate, told members from municipalities and school districts in attendance that they have spoken with numerous state officials about the problem with the state Department of Community and Economic Development's weighted vote system. The weighted vote system is based on a combination of the amount of revenue the municipality or school district collects and its population, in proportion to the revenues collected.
For example, Jim Thorpe borough has an earned income tax revenue of $441,980 and has 4,804 residents. That means, based on those two factors, the town's weighted vote is 4.33 percent. Some of the municipalities, on the other hand, have considerably less. For example, East Side Boro only has an earned income tax revenue of $20,801, and has 290 residents. This means their weighted vote only counted for .23 percent.
Katz said that numerous state officials are in agreement that something must be done. He then showed the committee House Bill 2412, which would amend Act 32 and eliminate the weighted vote. The bill was referred to the Pennsylvania Committee of Finance on April 12.
If the bill passes, the amendment states that "the vote shall no longer be weighted. All votes shall be determined by a majority vote of delegates present and each vote cast by a delegate shall equal one vote. If a tax collection committee has adopted bylaws providing for a weighted vote (which Carbon County's Tax Collection Committee voted in favor of in March), the bylaws shall be amended to comply with this paragraph."
Katz said that he and Montemuro have been instrumental in introducing the bill in Harrisburg, and noted that there are many legislators and the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors backing the bill.
"One way or another our vote is going to pass," he said. "Our voice matters and it's going to be heard loud and clear throughout the commonwealth of Pennsylvania."
Montemuro said that at the last PSATS meeting, 15 out of over 4,500 township officials throughout the state voted to keep the weighted vote. The rest voted in favor of Katz and his change for equal votes.
He added that he was told that by Nov. 30, everything should be finished and everyone should have equal say.
Katz also mentioned that a press conference will be held on Friday, at 1 p.m. at the Penn Forest Township Municipal Building. No further details were discussed.
In other matters, the committee adopted its request for proposal plan. The RFP committee will now begin working on an RFP for legal services to review tax collector proposals and contracts.
The next scheduled meeting of the tax collection committee is May 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the LGI room at Jim Thorpe Area High School.
The county tax collection committee was formed because of Act 32 of 2008, which amends the Local Tax Enabling Act.
Under Act 32, counties are now required to form a countywide collection committee and delegate one tax collector who will be responsible for the collection of earned income tax. Act 32 takes effect in 2012.
This new law states that this reduction in the amount of earned income tax collectors will provide for quicker money turnarounds, which means municipalities and school districts will get paid sooner.
The Carbon County Tax Collection Committee members include delegates from Jim Thorpe, Kidder Township, Penn Forest Township, East Penn Township, Franklin Township, Lehighton, Mahoning Township, Parryville, Weissport, Bowmanstown, Lower Towamensing Township, Palmerton, Towamensing Township, Lansford, Nesquehoning, Summit Hill, Coaldale, East Side, Lausanne Township, Lehigh Township, Packer Township, and Weatherly; as well as Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, Palmerton, Panther Valley and Weatherly school districts.
More information on Act 32 can be found at www.act32info.com.