Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mercer County Commissioners: No Tax Hike for 2007

Re-election efforts are underway in the Mercer County Commissioners' offices. For the second year in a row - and the last budget before re-election - the Gang of Three passed a balanced budget.

Amazing. Welcomed, but still amazing.

Hat tip to The Herald (Sharon, PA):
Commissioners Olivia M. Lazor and Brian Beader both said today there will be no tax hike.

Ms. Lazor, however, added officials will have to dip into the county’s nearly $6 million reserve fund in order to balance the budget. Neither she nor Beader were willing to disclose how much the county will be dipping into its reserves, or rainy day fund.

Commissioners cited health care cost increases of about 10 percent, salary increases of 2 to 3 percent and substantial shortfalls in state funding for human services as the primary reasons for dipping into the fund balance.
So, why complain about the commissioners for holding the line? The scary part comes when you look at the last few years:
Whatever property owners think of the absence of a tax increase, critics might argue the reserve was only available because of previous tax hikes from 2002 to 2005 that raised property taxes from 10.25 mills to 20.75, or a staggering 102 percent.
Residents should be outraged that there isn't a cut. We need a cut - a big one. When local school boards tag-team with the commishes and keep taxes going through the roof, people suffer. And it's time for it to stop.

Re-election is coming. Lazor will likely not run again. Michele Brooks will be replaced this month as she heads off to Harrisburg. Beader will want to give it another go - but he's up to his eyeballs in problems. Now is the time for change.

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