Tax reform a hot topic at representative’s town halls

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette State Rep. Garth Everett uses a bar graph to dispel the myth that the state cut spending on education during a Town Hall Meeting the Trout Run Volunteer Fire Company Tuesday. The graph, however, shows, spending from the state gradually increasing since 2009, with federal grants running out at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

TROUT RUN — Taxes have proven to be a mainstay in conversation as Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, continued his series of town hall meetings across the county in Trout Run on Tuesday.

Property taxes and the continued funding of public education proved to be a hot topic with voters during the meeting at Trout Run Volunteer Fire Company’s social hall.

“Why can’t they get everyone over 21 to pay a school tax?” Anthony Marelli, of Ralston, asked the representative.

Everett has sponsored a bill that would eliminate school property tax, but told the crowd that the $14 billion that would need to be raised through another tax slowed interest in the legislature. The low amount of votes that the bill has garnered also is due to high population areas where voters don’t pay for property taxes.

“There are many areas in Pennsylvania where it is more highly populated where the ratio of home ownership compared to renters is much different than ours,” Everett said. He added that representatives in larger cities fight against increasing taxes in the cities to help pay for rural schools.

“They have no interest at all in increasing the sales tax in Philadelphia any higher,” Everett said. “They say ‘Why should I tax my constituents to pay for your schools?'”

Elaine Zeller, of Trout Run, continued the sentiment that school property tax was unfairly high, saying the number of brick and mortar schools need to be looked at if cyber and charter school attendance is to continue to rise.

Everett said that while he believes parents should have a choice as to where their kids go to school, brick and mortar schools have continuously proven to have staying power, especially in Lycoming County where the percentage of students going to cyber school is still low.

“Brick and mortar school systems have to take care of everybody that shows up,” he said. “The cyber charters cherry pick and the public school takes the rest. The public schools are the backbone of education in rural PA.”

Joseph Yuscavage, of Cogan House, told the representative that he felt that corporate income taxes also were too high, and that he feared that Pennsylvania could begin to look like California, where he said businesses have been leaving in droves.

“Corporate taxes are causing employees to leave Pennsylvania. What follows when the corporate taxes are too high and businesses move and they take employees with them?”

Everett agreed that corporations are currently looking elsewhere when bringing jobs to states and said he feels the legislation is on track to reduce corporate income tax. Everett will still be holding two more town hall meetings from 6 to 8 p.m. on:

• Sept. 10, Jersey Shore Independent Hose Co., 130 Pennsylvania Ave., Jersey Shore.

• Sept. 18, Eldred Township Volunteer Fire Co., 5556 Warrensville Road, Montoursville.

For additional information, contact Everett’s offices in Muncy at 570-546-2084 or Jersey Shore at 570-398-4476.