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Issue Home November 1, 2006 Site Home

Susky Looks To Enact Earned Income Tax
Bond Issue Dominates Mt. View Board Meet
County Pension Plan Tops $10 Million

Courthouse Report
Polls Move In Harford
Gibson Barracks Report
November Jurors Drawn
Harford Polls Move
Whither Blue Ridge Taxes?

Susky Looks To Enact Earned Income Tax

At their October 10 meeting, the Susquehanna Boro Council had heard a presentation from Berkheimer Associates, regarding enacting an Earned Income Tax (EIT). With changes expected some time in the future to the way that school districts receive funding, whether or not to initiate an EIT will be on the ballots this spring. Voters will decide if school districts should enact an EIT to alleviate property taxes, with additional funding to come from gambling revenues, all with the goal of alleviating property taxes. Several municipalities in our county are also looking into initiating an EIT, Susquehanna Boro among them. At their October 24 meeting, it was discussed at length. A sample ordinance had been sent to the boro’s solicitor for review. Pending his findings, council decided that it is worth pursuing.

If the school district does enact the tax, it would be a shared tax and split with the boro. Some figures were discussed; at one-half percent, the boro would see somewhere between $50,000 and $55,000; at one percent, $100,000 to $110,000. This, even with an estimated 40% unemployment rate among its residents. Approximately 15% of the boro’s residents work in New York State; if residents’ jobs are in municipalities in New York (or Pennsylvania) that have an EIT, it is paid to that municipality because Susquehanna does not have one. But, if the EIT were to be enacted, Susquehanna would collect it. And, anyone who works in the boro will be subject to the tax, even if they do not live there, if the municipality they reside in does not have it. If the boro does enact the EIT, council will most likely do away with the occupational tax, and property owners could see a four-mil decrease in real estate taxes.

There was some discussion about Berkheimer; how would it be worth their while to collect the tax, when they will only receive a small percentage for collection? And, wasn’t the presentation council had heard on October 10 an attempt to “sell” a service?

At the end of the discussion, a motion carried to proceed with enacting the ordinance, with Mr. Kelly, Mr. Matis, Mr. Williams, Mr. Whitehead in favor, Mr. Kuiper and Mr. Lewis opposed. Council will request that a representative from Berkheimer attend the November 14 meeting to clarify some information regarding the tax; the boro’s tax assessor has also been requested to attend that meeting.

In other business, council extended good wishes to fellow member John Bronchella, who had been hospitalized the previous day.

A motion carried to adopt Ordinance 444, an update of the UCC, with an amended fee schedule to be added later by resolution.

Mr. Williams reported that some FEMA funding has been coming in, mostly for smaller projects so far. Paperwork for Front St. has been submitted to FEMA, and the following Friday, a meeting was scheduled to discuss work on Franklin Ave. and at Drinker Creek.

Paving on Jackson Ave. should be completed by the end of this week, as water line replacement has been completed.

Several council members have received complaints from homeowners about leaf pickup. Although council had decreed last year that this service would not be available, apparently there has been some “spot” pickups. The complaints were largely that some were getting their leaves picked up, and others were not. Mr. Kelly said that the leaves should not be picked up; at present the boro has no place to put them. Perhaps in the next year or so, arrangements could be made to compost them, but for now there just isn’t a place for them. It also takes time to pick them up; there are more immediate jobs for the streets department to see to. Mr. Matis said that some residents have been putting the leaves out into the streets, which causes a problem when they collect moisture. Not only do they cause a hazard when they are wet, but they cause damage to the streets because moisture cannot evaporate, and those that make their way into the storm drains cause clogs. It was agreed to advertise a  notice that leaves will not be picked up this year, nor will brush. It was noted that there have been some residents who have been dumping brush under the bridge, which is not allowed. At a cleanup held the prior weekend, it had cost an estimated $2,000 to have the illegally-dumped brush chipped (the cost was picked up by the Endless Mts. Heritage Region).

PennDOT has notified the boro that their 2007 liquid fuels allocation will be in the amount of $38,280.37.

A motion carried to accept a price quote from Zavada Associates in the amount of $4,000 for the year-end audit, the same price as last year.

Also approved was the Susquehanna Fire Dept. contract for 2007, with an increase of $1,000. Mr. Kuiper asked if the department was required to furnish financial statements to the boro; Mr. Kelly said that they are not, they are a private organization that contracts services to municipalities. Mr. Kuiper felt that they are employees of the boro, as the boro (and the other municipalities) provide workmen’s comp. coverage for them, and he asked why Susquehanna’s payments were higher than other municipalities who contract with them. Mr. Kelly said that the payment is based on population; Susquehanna’s is higher because there is a higher population than the other municipalities. Mr. Kuiper stressed that he was not questioning the department’s abilities; it is apparent that they are good at what they do, but when council is pinching pennies, it seems like a big increase. Mr. Kelly said the increase amounts to approximately five percent over last year’s cost, which is not unreasonable.

Council approved the SCDA’s plans for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, to be held on Friday, December 1, 7 p.m. at the boro building. The SCDA will decorate the tree and the light poles on Main St. After the ceremony there will be refreshments and a sing-along at the fire station. An invitation is extended to those with children to attend a free Santa’s breakfast on Saturday, December 2, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at St. John’s Parish Center.

And, Mayor Reddon reported that Lt. Jon Record had tendered his resignation from the police department, effective immediately. At her recommendation, a motion carried to appoint Sgt. Andidora to the position of lieutenant, and to raise his salary by 50¢ per hour as per the union contract. And, a motion carried to hire part-time officer David Clark.

The remainder of the meeting was spent working on the 2007 budget.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, November 7, 7 p.m. in the boro building.

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Bond Issue Dominates Mt. View Board Meet

Bond issue decisions dominated the Mountain View School Board meeting on October 23, although a more pleasant event opened the proceedings. Board President James Zick presented former teacher and principal Mr. Robert Klenk with a plaque commemorating his long and dedicated service to the school and community. Mr. Klenk spoke briefly, thanking the board for the plaque, which will hang in the school lobby, and also thanked them for the supper in his honor held the previous Saturday, sponsored by the Alumni Association. Mr. Klenk noted that he no longer needed to listen to bond issues, which brought laughter from the board and public, and left the meeting after the presentation.

Early on the agenda for the school board were presentations by three individual financial firms for the purpose of the refinancing/recall of the school's bonds. Board President James Zick requested the firms not presenting wait outside of the meeting room until it was their turn to speak before the board. The three financial companies were Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC, represented by Randy Krauss, RBC Capital Market, represented by Henry Sallusti and Public Financial Management, represented by Jamie Doyle. Mr. Krauss spoke first to the board, extolling the virtues of Janney Montgomery Scott, and pointing out that the firm had handled previous bond issues for the school district. Board members had the prospectus he had provided earlier, and Mr. Krauss gave an addendum to it for greater clarification.

Mr. Krauss laid out the two approaches the board can take with the bonds. He claimed that the negotiated sale system often achieved better rates for the bonds, with the competitive route more volatile with less secure results. He also noted that his company could both underwrite the bonds and provide financial consultation for the board. He said Janney Montgomery Scott had clients across the commonwealth with extensive background in bond issues. Board member John Halupke questioned Mr. Krauss regarding possible school district contribution of $160,000 for the bond issue. Mr. Krauss said those calculations would be configured both ways to the benefit of the school district. Acting Superintendent Dr. Andrew Chichura asked about time frames. He informed Mr. Krauss that a decision would not be made until the November meeting regarding which firm was awarded to handle the bonds for the school district. Mr. Krauss replied his company was flexible with time frames, working within the restrictions dictated by the legal requirements and would advise the board depending on current market conditions. The board had no further questions; Mr. Krauss thanked the board for listening to his presentation.

 Next up was Henry Sallusti of RBC Capital Market. He also gave the board a prospectus, and covered much of the same ground that Mr. Krauss had done, comparing negotiated and competitive rates. Like his competitor from Janney Montgomery Scott, Mr. Sallusti stated that RBC Capital Market could both underwrite and consult for the school board. He also spoke as though he regarded negotiated bond rates better than competitive ones. Mr. Sallusti gave a number of statistics about the number of bonds that were negotiated versus competitive across Pennsylvania, stating that 85% were negotiated. He made the claim that his firm was number one across the commonwealth in bond issues, and had a Double A rating, which very few firms have achieved.

School board member John Halupke asked him the same question he had asked Mr. Krauss regarding the school district contribution, and received a similar answer from Mr. Sallusti. Mr. Halupke also asked the fee RBC Capital Market charged, and Mr. Sallusti replied it was $5.50 per one thousand dollars per bond. Dr. Chichura again asked about time frames and Mr. Sallusti assured him that his firm could be ready as soon as possible to fit within the 90-day time frame imposed by regulations. There were no other questions and Mr. Sallusti thanked the board for their time.

The last presenter was Jamie Doyle of Public Financial Management. Ms. Doyle was substituting for her colleague, Brad Remig, who had a family emergency. After handing out her company's prospectus, she stated that her company was different from the previous two firms who had just presented, in that Public Financial Management was solely an independent financial advisor, and did not underwrite. She said there was no conflict of interest as with the other firms because Public Financial Management worked solely for the client, and did not have to also satisfy banks and financial institutions who were trying to get the highest rates for bonds, while the school district was trying to get the lowest rate.  Her firm did Internet auctions, and this method was very flexible with a fifteen-minute limit for bids. Additionally the school district representative could log on and be a part of the process. In response to board member John Halupke's question about unsatisfactory bids, Ms. Doyle said the school board could reject the bids if they weren't satisfactory, and proceed at a later date. Ms. Doyle quoted statistics as well, saying that Public Financial Management had saved other school districts up to $47,000, and $33,000. The Internet auction could "lock in the lowest cost to you [the school board]". Acting Superintendent Dr. Chichura informed Ms. Doyle that the board would not make the decision until the November meeting, and wanted to know about her firm's time frame. She replied that with the Internet auction, time frames were easier to handle. After no further questions, Ms. Doyle thanked the board for their consideration.

Acting Superintendent Dr. Chichura asked for direction from the board on the issue of serving breakfast for the high school students. Students would have less than 10 minutes for the meal, according to Ms. Eliza Vagni, Acting High School Principal. Given the restrictive time frame that students would have to eat the meal, the board did not think serving breakfast would be practical at this time.

During the second Hearing of Visitors portion of the agenda, a parent stated to the board that the progress reports that parents are supposed to get from teachers on how classes as a whole are doing, are "a joke". She claimed that her son's teacher had sent home incorrect or incomplete reports, and that her son also got incorrect grades due to "computer error" that the teacher could have changed with a pen. Board member Kevin Griffiths agreed with the parent and recommended that the Policy Committee review the progress reports with an aim to reconciling the inconsistencies and errors.

The board adjourned and went into executive session after completing the night's agenda.

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County Pension Plan Tops $10 Million

The Susquehanna County Commissioners were advised that the county’s pension plan that suffered multi-million-dollar losses at the turn of the century due to questionable stock investments is back on track and has climbed above $10 million in total assets.

Investment management consultants from The Seneca Group of Citigroup Institutional Consulting relayed the good news to the commissioners last week during a review of the plan. Steven Flanders said the plan has gained $605,177 year to date and $2.8 million since The Flanders Group took over the plan in October of 2002.

“The capital markets have seen an improvement over the last several months,” said Flanders, “and the blue chips of the Dow reached new all time highs.” Since 2002, the county portfolio has returned 11.11 percent, exceeding the anticipated 10 percent return that Flanders predicted when his firm assumed control of the county’s investments.

Flanders also told the commissioners that his firm merged with a group in Rochester, NY to form The Seneca Group that in turn joined Citigroup and formed Citigroup Institutional Consulting.

In another matter, Vera Scroggins of Bridgewater Township asked the commissioners if they would consider instilling a moratorium on stone quarries. She said there are 1,500 plus quarries in the county.

“We have become a mining county,” Mrs. Scroggins said. “More than 100 trucks a day pass by my house and are you aware of what it does to the roads? And, of course, it is an environmental hazard.”

Roberta Kelly, chair of the Board of Commissioners, said any action would have to be initiated by the municipality

“It really boils down to the municipality,” Mrs. Kelly said. “They have the power to control through zoning.”

Mrs. Scroggins suggested a referendum that would let county residents pass judgment on a moratorium, but Commissioner Jeff Loomis said it would not be done.

“You can’t just slap a referendum on the ballot,” Loomis said. He told Mrs. Scroggins to start with the county Planning Commission.

Loomis released a report from Cost Management Plus, the group that manages the prescription costs at the county jail. The report shows that the average cost per inmate during the month of August was $38.75. A total of 51 inmates that equals about 70 percent of the jail population were on medications during the month.

According to the report, the total average monthly cost of medication at the hospital through August of 2006 was $3,309 or $57 per prisoner. Five inmates had medication costs greater than $200 each in August for a total of $1,585 or 56 percent of the pharmacy costs in the month.

The commissioners appointed the following individuals to the Susquehanna County Children and Youth Advisory Board: Mary Hinds, Susan Rookstool and Amy Wood.

Meeting as the election board, the commissioners approved a change in the polling place in Harford Township from the township building to the firehouse.

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Courthouse Report
Compiled by P. Jay Amadio


Kenneth W. Gumaer to Darlene M. Gumaer, RR2, New Milford, in New Milford Township for one dollar.

Randy W. Loch, Jamie L. Loch to Randy W. Loch, RR1, Springville, Jamie L. Loch, in Springville Township for one dollar.

Marion C. Schmitt to Frank Bissol, RR1, Union Dale, Joseph Bissol, in Clifford Township for $70,000.

James Taylor, Laurie Smith (nbm) Laurie Taylor to James Taylor, RR1, Hop Bottom, Laurie Taylor, in Lenox Township for one dollar.

William W. Toomer, Lisa D. Toomer to Bruce L. Hummel, Roebling, NJ, Donna L. Hummel, in Oakland Township for $80,000.

Amy Anderson MacConnell, Patrick MacConnell, Sara Anderson Hunt, Charles Hunt, Sherry VanVranken, Gary VanVranken to Scott J. Vogler, Susquehanna, PA and Tara L. Vogler, in Susquehanna for $68,000.

Frank A. Mulligan to Frank A. Mulligan, RR6, Montrose, in Bridgewater Township, for one dollar.

Merton J. Bowman, Karen J. Bowman to Robert L. Heft, Jr., RR4, Montrose, Jamie S. Heft, in Rush Township for $120,000.

Christine S. Wyatt, Stephanie Wyatt (aka) Stephanie R. Wyatt to Stephanie R. Wyatt, RR1, Montrose, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.

Blaine G. Warriner to Michael Repchick, RR2, Montrose, Nicole M. Repchick, in Rush Township for $98,050.

Francis X. O’Connor, Sharon A. O’Connor, Byron D. Lesjack, Carol Lesjack, Douglas F. Perry, Joann Perry to Henry J. Stanton, RR2, Carbondale, Maureen Stanton, in Great Bend Township for $78,000.

Eleanor Verboys to Eleanor Verboys, RR2, Union Dale, MaryAnn Durko McCusker, in Herrick Township for one dollar.

Eleanor Verboys to Eleanor Verboys, RR2, Union Dale, MaryAnn Durko McCusker, in Herrick Township for one dollar.

Roger T. Russell, Donna C. Russell to Susan McDonald, Florence, KY, in Herrick Township for $249.

Arlin H. White, Diana White, Randy D. White, Cynthia Engel, David Engel to Jessica A. Dibble, Montrose, in Montrose for $96,000.

Mitchell Bar Placement Inc. (by sheriff), Albert M. Damico (by sheriff), Joann R. Damico (by sheriff) to Sopramco III LLC, Fairport, NY, in Jessup Township for $6,159.

Sherry Kelso to Erika Tovar, Orlando, FL, Lisa Snyder, in Susquehanna for $500.

Dean A. Silver, Denise Smith to Charles C. Snedaker Jr., RR2, Hallstead, in Hallstead Borough for $100,000.

Martin Family Limited Partnership to Mary A. Payne, Forest City, in Ararat Township for $190,000.

Frank A. Mulligan, Rodney A. Birchard, RR1, Springville, Sarah Birchard, in Bridgewater Township for $140,770.

Charles Higgins, Eleanor Higgins, Robert M. Higgins, Debra Jean Bell (aka) Debra Jean Higgins-Bell to Grand Discovery Consultants LLC, Asherville, NC, in Herrick Township for $500.

Roy C. Landucci (by sheriff), Susan L. Landucci (by sheriff) to WM Speciality Mortgage LLC, Orange, CA, in Choconut Township for $7,360.

John E. Tait, Erlane D. Tait to John Hranyczny New York, NY, in New Milford Township for $145,000.

Grace Harvey, Leonard R. Harvey (by power of attorney) to Bradley J. Castrogiovanni, RR2, Montrose, in Bridgewater Township for $60,000.

Mary Cosmello to DJR Holdings LLC, Olympia, WA in New Milford Township for $10.

Kenneth P. Stanford, Martha R. Stanford to Martha R. Stanford, Susquehanna in Susquehanna for one dollar.

Richard D. Brower, Debra L. Brower to Peoples National Bank, Hallstead, in Oakland Borough for one dollar.

Dean H. Potter, Tammy Potter (aka) Tamara R. Potter to Thomas J. Chamberlain, Clarks Summit, Christine Chamberlain, in Susquehanna for $22,500.

Dean H. Potter, Tammy Potter (aka) Tamara R. Potter to Thomas J. Chamberlain, Clarks Summit, Christine Chamberlain in Susquehanna for $22,500.

Fairway Consumer Discount Company to JPF Enterprises, Forest City, in Forest City for $42,500.

Margaret Vivian Boyd to Andrew D. Allen, RR1, New Milford, in Harford Township for one dollar.

Laurence J. Harris, Margaret E. Harris to Giorgio Alvarez, Maria E. Ricaurte, in Apolacon Township for $198,000.

Daniel Stephen Diljak, Mariann Lee Diljak to Daniel Stephen Diljak, Marianna Lee Diljak, in Springville Township for one dollar.

Ada Mahn to Saam Barry, Patricia Saam in Herrick Township for $20,000.

Viola L. Birmelin (estate) to Christy Ann Clarke, in Herrick Township for one dollar.

Thomas F. Perkins, Marsha Perkins to R. Scott Goff, Michele Goff, in Liberty Township for $200,000.

Guy E. Vandermark, Jr. to Charmarie v. Bisel, James C. Bisel, in Dimock Township for one dollar.


Harry E. Phillips, Clifford and Maria R. Esterbrook, Wyomissing.

Mathew A. Miller and Jeanette Lindhorst-Felice, both of Montrose.

Ulysses Samuel Arnold II, Montrose and Jennifer Kuszkowski, Vestal, NY.


Christopher J. Hurlbert, RR2, Montrose vs. Amy S. Hurlbert, RR2, Montrose. Married July 18, 1992.

Jackie J. Bean, Brooklyn, PA vs. Eric J. Bean, RR1, Kingsley. Married August 10, 2001.


The New Milford Municipal Authority has filed liens against the following persons for delinquent sewer bills:

Matthew T. Lewis, New Milford, $90.36 and $235; Ronald E. Whitaker and Della R. Whitaker, $181.50; and, Dewey F. Carroll, Joyce Marie Carroll, New Milford, $84.93 and $116.

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Polls Move In Harford

It's official – or will be very shortly: voters in Harford will make their choices in the spacious and elegant fire hall on Fair Hill Road this year.

Because of cramped quarters in the Township office where the polls have been for many years, a new location was becoming imperative. The fire company initially reacted negatively to the idea of relocating the polling place to their new digs, but the members were recently persuaded to allow voting on November 7 at their facility.

At their scheduled meeting on October 24, the Harford Township Supervisors learned that the move is official, or will be once the county posts notices and advertises to that effect.

The single-item agenda was disposed of in near-record time: all of about seven minutes.

The next meeting of the Harford Township Supervisors will be held on Saturday morning, November 11, beginning at 10:00 a.m. at the Township Building (the former polling place) on Route 547.

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Gibson Barracks Report


At some point on October 25, someone broke into the unlocked vehicle of Amy Vanvleck, parked outside of her home in Hop Bottom. Twenty-eight Zanex pills were taken.


On October 25, a 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer was reported stolen from upstate New York. The next day it was found, submerged in the Susquehanna river near the Great Bend boat access off of State Route 1010. The vehicle has been recovered from the river.


Sometime during the night of October 26, Heather Merrell of Halstead Borough had her vehicle broken into. A golf club set (including golf bag) and 250 compact disks were stolen. The estimated value of the stolen property is $4000.


At 5:30 on October 14, a hit and run accident occurred on State Route 4001 in front of the Brackney Inn (Silver Lake Township). It occurred when Michael Ruska of Binghamton passed the GMC van of Karl Eschbach of Montrose, as Eschbach was exiting his vehicle. Ruska struck the left front driver’s door of the parked GMC, then fled the scene in the direction of Quaker Lake. Police had been pursuing Ruska in New York State and, after eluding them, he had fled to Pennsylvania where the accident happened. There were two passengers in the car at the time, a woman and her two-year old daughter. Charges have been filed at the office of District Justice Jeffrey Hollister, Endangering the Welfare of Children, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, and ten vehicle code infractions. Ruska is still at large, and anyone with information as to his whereabouts is asked to contact the police at (570) 465-3154.


On October 17 there was an accident in front of the Mountain View School District. Kelly Driscole was starting to turn into the high school campus, facing northbound on State Route 106, when she was struck from behind by Evelyn Oheren. Oheren stated that she was driving home from work and fell asleep. Driscole’s Lumina was pushed into the high school driveway and Oheren’s car continued north, veering off the left side of the road and entering the woods. Oheren was cited for careless driving.


At around 3:30 on October 20, an unidentified white Chevy pickup did not stop for a stop sign while coming off of T678 onto State Road 4014 in Friendsville. The Chevy struck a Plymouth Voyager driven by Ronald Woodruff, and containing passengers. All were wearing seatbelts and there were no injuries. The Chevy fled the scene toward New York on State Route 858.


On October 14 at exit 219 off of I-81, James Reed of Oak Hall, VA rolled the tractor trailer he was driving. He sustained minor injuries. He was a fugitive from justice and is now imprisoned in the Susquehanna County Jail. The exit ramp was closed for five hours.


There were instances of harassment recently reported between students at both Bethesda Day Treatment Center (October 16) and Mountain View High School (October 10). Both cases involved one student bullying another.


On October 14, Randy Blaisure of New Milford entered the New Milford Hardware Store. Once inside he grabbed Barbara Stone and struck her several times on the back and lower neck area. He was arrested on several violations of the PA Crimes Code.


Rowena Shager of Gibson, PA reported the theft of a set of caterpillar quick disconnect industrial forks from the quarry on Jennings Road in New Milford Township. The theft occurred sometime between October 6 and October 20. The investigation is continuing.

If you have information regarding any of these cases, please contact the Gibson police barracks at (570) 465-3154.

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November Jurors Drawn

Following is the list of names drawn to serve as Petit and Traverse jurors, to appear in the Court of Common Pleas, Susquehanna County Courthouse, Montrose, on the sixth day of November, at nine a.m.

Apolacon Twp.: Fred Seales Ackley, Robert Creller, David Darling.

Ararat Twp.: Tina Louise Beach, Lynda Wilcha.

Auburn Twp.: Scott H. McAleer.

Bridgewater Twp.: Hector Heguy, Joseph S. McDaniels, Christine L. Plavier, Robert P. Washak.

Brooklyn Twp.: Mary C. Hower.

Choconut Twp.: Jolene F. Rosencrance, Arnold N. Showers.

Clifford Twp.: Michael Demianovich, Myra A. Mikloiche, Lori Ostir.

Dimock Twp.: Terry DeLousia, Jerry Wood.

Forest Lake Twp.: Allen L. Hoffman, Shirley Kocik, Carlo Schneller.

Franklin Twp.: John S. Blom, Michele K. Depue, Lori King, Arthur G. Starks.

Gibson Twp.: Mary R. Fay.

Great Bend Twp.: Robin George, Karen L. Hettinger, Carolyn T. Rinker, Deano C. Six, Robert L. Summers, John M. Walker.

Hallstead Boro: Marguerite Evans.

Harford Twp.: Samantha Daniels.

Hop Bottom Twp.: Donna T. Johnson.

Jackson Twp.: Jason Bedford.

Lanesboro Boro: Kevin McQuillan.

Lathrop Twp.: Heidi Lynn Harvey, Stanley A. Klees.

Lenox Twp.: Donald Allen, Adam B. Manzer.

Liberty Twp.: Stephen P. Depue, Randy Henry, Gary L. Hugaboom.

Little Meadows Boro: Philip DelSordo.

Middletown Twp.: Megan Conboy.

Montrose Boro 1W: James H. Fahringer, Scott J. Quigg.

Montrose Boro 2W: Jeffrey W. Hartman, Edward Luecke.

New Milford Boro: Jeffrey D. Kelsey, Alison R. Latz.

New Milford Twp.: Bernard Cudo, Christopher Erat, Dale James Ralston.

Oakland Boro: Gary A. Boughton, Twila D. Stark.

Oakland Twp.: James E. Wood.

Rush Twp.: Kevin C. Pierson, Floyd Vanwinkle, Bernadette Villeneuve.

Silver Lake Twp.: Mary M. Haiges, Paula J. Holofchak, Cheryl M. Moy, Allen A. VanTasssel.

Springville Twp.: James McIntyre, Todd C. Oakes.

Susquehanna Boro 1W: Theresa M. Felter, Robert E. Wayman.

Thompson Boro: Paul Shelly.

Thompson Twp.: Ronald Parsons.

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Polls Move In Harford

It's official – or will be very shortly: voters in Harford will make their choices in the spacious and elegant fire hall on Fair Hill Road this year.

Because of cramped quarters in the Township office where the polls have been for many years, a new location was becoming imperative. The fire company initially reacted negatively to the idea of relocating the polling place to their new digs, but the members were recently persuaded to allow voting on November 7 at their facility.

At their scheduled meeting on October 24, the Harford Township Supervisors learned that the move is official, or will be once the county posts notices and advertises to that effect.

The single-item agenda was disposed of in near-record time: all of about seven minutes.

The next meeting of the Harford Township Supervisors will be held on Saturday morning, November 11, beginning at 10:00 a.m. at the Township Building (the former polling place) on Route 547.

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Whither Blue Ridge Taxes?

There hardly seems much point to it. Tax Study Commissions are at work in school districts across Pennsylvania learning about everything having to do with the taxes that fund their local schools. Come Spring, 2007 voters will be asked if they want to have an Earned Income Tax (EIT) to supplant some of the property taxes they now pay, and whatever the study commissions decide won't have much to do with it.

Act 1 of 2006 requires school districts to create these tax study commissions to make recommendations about such things to their commissioning school boards. The school boards don't have to take their advice, and no matter what anyone else decides, the voters will make the final choice.

Members of the Tax Study Commission for Blue Ridge held their second meeting on October 23 where they learned a lot about the demographics of the district, and were told they could recommend anything they want. They can even choose to change nothing; that is, to leave things they way they are.

Nevertheless, next May voters will be offered questions like these:

1. "Do you favor imposing an additional x% earned income tax? The revenue generated from the increased tax rate will be used to reduce taxes on qualified residential properties by $xxxxxx. The current earned income tax rate is y%."

2. "Do you favor imposing a personal income tax at x%? The revenue generated from the tax will be used to reduce taxes on qualified residential properties by $xxxxxx."

3. "Do you favor converting the school district's current earned income tax to a personal income tax at x%? The revenue generated from the personal income tax will be used to reduce taxes on qualified residential property by $xxxxx and to replace the revenue from the school district's current earned income tax. The current earned income tax rate is x%."

Presumably, the Tax Study Commission will be able to fill in the blanks.

Chairman (and School Board President) Alan Hall presented His four colleagues on the commission with a set of tables that show the composition of the district populace by age, by income and by residential status (owner or renter), as well as the current property tax revenue structure. He discussed the relative merits of the EIT, and the Personal Income Tax (PIT) that may eventually supplant it.

The idea is that the EIT (or the PIT) could offset some part of the property taxes that now account for most of the local funding for the schools. Some school districts already impose an EIT. Blue Ridge does not.

The consensus so far on the commission seems to be to leave things the way they are.

An EIT would affect only the employed. Senior citizen retirees would be largely exempt from the EIT.

A PIT would affect everyone; all income would be subject to taxation, except that Social Security and pension income are exempt from both the EIT and the PIT.

Either way, only property owners who actually live in the district would receive a cut in their real estate taxes. People who own property in the district but do not live on it, would not qualify for the homestead exemption, which is carried over from earlier legislation.

A farmer's situation would depend on how much profit s/he takes from the farm. Farm profits would be taxed under either the EIT or the PIT, but farms are eligible for a farmstead exemption for real estate taxes.

Renters (about 25% of the district's population) would lose the most, since, although they pay no property tax now (except through their rent), they would pay additionally under either EIT or PIT.

Rebates on property taxes and rent would be available to lower-income residents.

Laying all this out, Mr. Hall noted that since the district abuts the New York State line, people who work in New York and pay taxes there would also have to pay the EIT/PIT. This situation, he said, could move some to consider relocating to New York. He said that he thought the community needed to encourage young families to live here, to help "keep these little towns alive." According to Mr. Hall, the EIT/PIT proposal would tend to make the Blue Ridge district most attractive to low-income senior citizens.

A couple of years ago Blue Ridge signed on to Act 72, which promised to make gambling revenue available to schools to offset some property taxes. That's still part of the mix, but nobody is betting on when the money might show up. Mr. Hall doesn't think it will ever happen. He said that Pennsylvania imposes the highest taxes on gambling revenue anywhere (about 34%), which does not encourage the development of the industry. Moreover, he said that the potential windfall available from gambling is gradually being eaten up by new legislation that takes more and more slices from a pie that doesn't even exist yet.

So far the Tax Study Commission meetings have just presented information to the commission members. There was a little more discussion this time. Mr. Hall is clearly the most knowledgeable about the whole thing. For the next meeting, on November 6, the commission hopes to debate the pros and cons, if there are any.

All meetings of the Blue Ridge Tax Study Commission begin at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.

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