When I was elected to City Council I took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with fidelity.
In my first several years on Council I chaired the Historic Preservation Committee and had to deal with the question of whether or not a property owner in the Williamsport Historic District had the right to demolish his property.
Our solicitors reviewed the law as it pertained to the Historic District and advised me that the law was not on the side of the property owner, so I supported the efforts to preserve the property and today it still stands. My vote was not based on whether or not I liked the structure or the property owner. Nor was it based on the tax impact on the city. My vote was based on the solicitors' interpretation of the law and on my own interpretation of my oath.
Regarding my recent vote on the demolition requests by Lycoming College on properties it owns I applied the same test. I voted to uphold the law and to allow the demolition permits.
I am not someone who believes in selective enforcement of the law.
In reference to a recent letter to the editor regarding the Lycoming College demolition requests stating that "Williamsport taxpayers are being asked to ante up $8,500 to cover the lost property tax revenue," let me briefly review the "Payment in Lieu of Taxes" or PILOT program in the City.
This program, implemented in the 1990s is a voluntary program whereby several non-profit entities in the City Susquehanna Health, Penn College and Lycoming College, to name a few voluntarily pay the City taxes on the properties they purchase at the rate the properties were taxed before the non-profits purchased them. Those taxes continue to be paid regardless of the future use of the properties by the non-profit entity. To date, as far as I know, none of the properties purchased and demolished by these entities has required taxpayers to "ante up" anything for lost property tax revenue because there has been no lost property tax revenue.
I am committed to continue to make this City a great place in which to live and to raise our families.
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom