support tax bill
Homeowners and retirees, if you want school property tax elimination as much as me, it’s time to get busy. Many homeowners, around 10,000, lose their homes each year because they cannot afford to pay their school taxes and each year there are around 350,000 homes in foreclosure in Pennsylvania.
The Property Tax Independence Act has been introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate HB 76 & SB 76, by Representative Jim Cox, and Senator Dave Argall as prime sponsors.
For the past 30 years the General Assembly has continued to offer Pennsylvania homeowners nothing more than fraudulent, valueless approaches to property tax relief. We were also offered property tax relief from casino gaming revenue, which was for property tax relief, and the horse racing industry, which they divided up. To add insult to injury they used the table’s games revenue to balance the budget.
Now we have the Property Independence Act HB 76 & SB 76, sponsored by 68 representatives and 20 senators. In Luzerne County we would like to thank these lawmakers who are sponsors of these bills; Senator John Yudichak (prime sponsor), Senator Lisa Baker, Rep. Karen Boback, Rep. Gerald Mulley, and Rep. Tarah Toohil. Our thanks to the representatives and senators who have shown they truly care about the school children and taxpayers of Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to have Phyllis Mundy, Mike Carroll, and Eddie Day Pashinski to be co-sponsors after presenting them with signed petitions from their constituents with only excuses that the bill is flawed with ambiguous language.
On April 14 an article was published in the Times Leader and Abington Journal about PTCC group pushes bill to the elimination of school property tax and statements were made by Rep. Carroll and Rep. Mundy about the bill.
Representative Mike Carroll, and especially Phyllis Mundy are making lame excuses for not supporting HB 76, Carrolls’ comments about his not being certain if the bill would fully fund education and whether or not his schools would receive the same funding are ridiculous and indicate that he has not done any homework whatsoever on the legislation.
The numbers and funding provisions are available from multiple sources, including legislation itself.
Mundy is the worst of the lot, even though she said she will vote for the bill. She has always opposed elimination and makes biased and just untruthful comments to justify her position. We are infuriated by her taxpayer/business warfare ploy, suggesting that the legislation should be rejected because it eliminates for businesses; the IFO analysis clearly stated that the enactment of HB/SB 76 would attract businesses and jobs to Pennsylvania.
Finally, they want to see “relief” through the homestead exclusion which DOES NOT give a 50% reduction as they claim. The law allows an exclusion from taxes of 50 percent for everyone. And without a hard cap on property taxes they eventually rise to previous levels but with new taxes to pay for the temporary “relief.”
Neither of the three, Mundy, Carroll and Pashinski, represents the needs of their constituents in any way but is apparently giving their loyalty to the special interests that pay for their campaigns.
Representative Mundy, you stated you support HB 76. Thank you, now lets take another step as Minority Chairperson of the Finance Committee. Why won’t you co-sponsor this bill and get your plus-nine members a push to get the bill out on the floor for a vote. Take the lead, don’t say you will wait for the majority to allow for the vote. The vote on June 17, 2013, was 24-0, 15 Republicans and 10 Democrats.
There’s still time
to save Irem Temple
A few months ago I was contacted by two, professional photographers based out of Paris, France, requesting that they be given permission to photograph our 107 year old Irem Temple Mosque located on North Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre. They reached out to me assuming that I was still in charge of the Real Estate holdings of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Industrial Fund. I explained to them that I was no longer affiliated with the Chamber, but after reviewing their website and credentials, I told them that I would see what I could do to gain them access to the Mosque.
The artists from Paris are by no means “fly-by-night” photographers. They have art galleries in Paris, London, and Stockholm. Using large format camera equipment, their artistic passion is focused on memorializing historically significant, deteriorating theaters of Golden, by-gone eras. Please visit their website at http://www.marchandmeffre.com to view some of their work.
These men are flying to the United States next week to photograph several, historically significant, grand theaters on the east coast, as well as in Canada. They have specifically set aside nine days to spend in Wilkes-Barre with hopes that they will be allowed to photograph our Irem Temple. They will be in Wilkes-Barre from today through August 5. The fact that our Irem Temple appeared on the “radar screen” of these artists in Paris, France should tell us something about the architectural significance of this treasure sitting in our back yard.
The residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania should feel honored that our iconic, historic landmark has gained global attention. This is an opportunity for our community that simply cannot be ignored. The problem is that the leadership of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry has made it clear that they have no intention of allowing this French team to enter the Irem Temple, which they unfortunately own and control.
When several members of our group reached to the President of the Chamber, William Moore, to express their concern over his stance on this opportunity, Mr. Moore’s scripted response was, “Thank you for contacting me about the Irem Temple and allowing photographers to enter the building. On the advice of our insurance carriers and legal counsel, we are unable to allow anyone to enter the building.” 2
The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, as Stewards of several publically financed projects and assets in the Wilkes-Barre area, including their ownership of the Irem Temple Mosque, I cannot help but feel that the Chamber is not fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility in doing whatever they can to promote our community assets, and to fulfill their Mission of enhancing the quality of life in northeastern Pennsylvania. Why in the world would they stand in the way of any attempt to promote an initiative that could potentially assist in the restoration of this one of a kind landmark?
If anyone can attach a shred of logic to any of the Chambers actions as they relate to the handling of the Irem Temple Mosque, please let me know, because I am surely at a loss. In stark contrast to what immeasurable contributions our Chamber made to this community over the past three decades, I’m not quite sure what their current mission or strategy is, or even what their significance and role is in contributing value to this community.
Several months ago, we created a Facebook page titled; “Irem Temple Mosque Restoration Project,” which is devoted to keeping the public aware of any and all developments concerning our 107 year old Mosque. As of this writing, there are 372 concerned citizens who are members of this Facebook community. This website serves as a forum to discuss and exchange ideas on how to save our Irem Temple. This is no small task, but a lot of good ideas are being shared by the 372 members. Yes, there is clearly hope for the future of the Irem Temple. I invite all concerned citizens to view our Facebook page for news and updates at:
Conclusion: The Hotel Sterling is now our newest parking lot. The residents of Wilkes-Barre cannot allow our Irem Temple to be the next victim of the wrecking ball due to unnecessary complacency. The Irem Temple can be saved.
Thank you for listening.
Ross G. Macarty