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Citizens tax group forms to protest Lehighton school

  • Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Bob Kistler presents a chart showing how fast school taxes have risen in Lehighton in the past 20 years.
    Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Bob Kistler presents a chart showing how fast school taxes have risen in Lehighton in the past 20 years.
Published February 10. 2014 05:00PM

A citizen's group has formed in response to projected tax increases needed if the Lehighton Area School District decides to build an elementary center.

Organizer David Bradley said the group wants pressure the Lehighton school board to discuss other options that would retain the four current elementary centers and save the district from having to increase taxes.

Approximately 30 people attended the several-hour session last week at Franklin Township Elementary Center.

Bradley said that there will be a construction meeting at 7 o'clock tonight at the Lehighton Area High School Administrative building.

He said he was asking people to put "gentle" pressure on the board members to at least listen to other options that are available.

Bradley said that school board members should know that "funding for school projects has dried up."

"I have a letter from the Pennsylvania State Education saying that there is no funding available," he said. Bradley and another member of the group, met in Harrisburg.

Bradley said he became involved in the present issues with the school board because he feels there are better ways to handle the problems that the schools have.

Energy savings available

John Linn of Trane Comprehensive Solutions presented information about guaranteed energy saving solutions that could save the district 100 percent of energy costs.

Linn said the program could be used to replace boilers, roofs, windows, doors, insulation, lighting and water. Linn noted that at Franklin Elementary School one part of the building is so warm that a window has to be left open, while on the other side of the building everyone freezes.

He said that could be easily fixed to provide even heat throughout the building.

Bradley said when the district had the architect look at buildings, it is much like asking a new car dealer to see if your old car is repairable.

"He is in the business of selling new cars, not making repairs, so why would you ask an architect to look over buildings to see if they can be repaired?" he asked.

Chart shows tax increases

Bob Kistler of Lehighton also presented a chart that showed how school taxes have risen for Lehighton taxpayers. He showed the scale from 1993 to present.

His chart indicated that school taxes have risen much higher than local incomes and that tax increases have risen faster than the cost of living index.

"This chart show that you have less dollars in your pocket," he said. "He said that the Property Tax Act would lower property taxes and that would help families buy homes, which is good for the community."

Promoting tax bills

Steve Trainer said that many people are losing their homes because of the economy. He said that the two bills that are in the Senate and the House would shift property taxes to a 1 percent sales tax increase and 1.2 percent personal income tax. He said that in the Senate for the sales tax proposal, 26 have signed, 13 Republicans and 13 Democrats.

"If the school has a lot of debt when this is passed, it has to be cleared up," he said. "So the district knows that if it has debt, such as in this building project, we will have to pay it."

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