Friday, May 16, 2008

Tony Phyrillas: Tax group opposes pension hike for state retirees

STOP PRIMARY RESIDENCE PROTECTION PLAN or STOP, a citizens group working to eliminate all property taxes in Pennsylvania, opposes a proposal to increase pensions for retired state workers and legislators.

The group believes a pension increase would wipe out any potential savings from the elimination or reduction in property taxes, according to founder Bob Logue.

From a release issued by STOP:

The Pennsylvania House leadership is proposing increases in state employee pensions including retired legislators, teachers and other state workers. The issue of this letter is not whether the pension increases are merited, but instead where the money will come from to pay for the increases.

At least as far as the teachers and other school retirees are concerned, the increases will come from the school districts that employed them. As our school districts are required to replenish the pension fund to pay the proposed higher pensions, increases in property taxes — the major source of funding for school districts — will likely be forthcoming for homeowners and other property owners.

Any savings realized by property owners from the slot parlors could easily be wiped away by millage increases to help fund these pension increases. This is the perfect example of why I have repeatedly stated property tax reductions are only temporary, and are not true property tax reform.

When you see a few hundred dollars in property tax reductions on your school tax bill this year, enjoy it, but don't get used to it…because those reductions will not last. Reassessments that may soon be ordered by the PA Supreme Court as they rule on the constitutionality of the base year assessment system most counties use; or millage increases by your local school board to offset pension increases or other budgetary increases, will soon wipe away your property tax reductions.

The only real property tax reform is abolishment of all property taxes — school, county and municipal on primary residences. Replacement sales and income taxes and the economic boom such a plan would unleash will strengthen the economies of our counties, school districts and municipalities. Then homeowners would truly own their homes for the first time ever.

Contact your PA State Senator and encourage her or him to push for passage of HB 1947 (which passed the House 197-0) or SB 717. Both pieces of legislation are currently in the Senate Finance Committee. Both would amend the PA constitution to permit abolishment of all property taxes on primary residences. It is important the Senate act on either of these bills this year.

Tony Phyrillas

Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. He received a first place award for Best Opinion Column in 2007 by Suburban Newspapers of America. He was also honored for column writing in 2006 by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Copyright © 2005-2008, GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.