Board seeks younger, less solvent tax study commissioners before Sept. 14

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:25

    Westfall - The Delaware Valley School Board began the sorting last week, but the pickings appeared to be too old and too rich. The board must choose nine volunteers from the community to serve on a Tax Study Commission to consider funding alternatives to the property tax. “It’s sort of like picking a jury,” commented one school board member at the Aug. 31 work session. From the last meeting, a list of fourteen names was prepared, code-lettered “a” to “n,” to avoid public discussion of the people being critiqued. Three of which were automatically disqualified because of their having relatives who work in the district. A married couple also applied for the position, but the board disqualified the husband in an effort to get more women in the commission, making the wife the third female and the husband the fourth, and last, disqualified applicant. Board member Ed Silverstone remained dissatisfied with the pool of applicants they had saying, “This ought not to be the end of it.” He pointed out the lack of diversity and the absence of tenants from the list. Renters stand to take the biggest hit if an earned income tax is approved. President Sue Casey suggested more advertising, and the idea was seconded by Bob Goldsack, who suggested they advertise for a specific group of people. Two other applicants came under scrutiny, both prior board members. Member Jack Fisher contemplated the idea of disqualifying both of them, but Silverstone asserted that their prior service is indeed a qualification. Some thought that it is time for new ideas and that former board members represent an old vision, but others stated that their leadership and experience would be assets to the commission. Fisher pointed out that only one person on the list made less than $40,000, and that the majority made over $100,000 a year. With the average income in Pike County in the mid to high fifties, Casey said, the commission thus far did not represent the district very well. The applicant pool was also not evenly enough represented by age to the board’s liking. At one point in the meeting, however, solicitor Michael Weinstein commented that he is afraid the roles of these people may be misunderstood by the board. “The rules are very clear,” he said, “[The commission] will have its marching orders when it begins … they are to make recommendations only.” After some more discussion, the board concluded to run more advertisements looking for tenants between the ages of 21 to 40 years old, and people making from $10,000 to $60,000 a year. The plan is to the notify those chosen to be on the commission and name alternates. The legal deadline for the appointments is Sept. 14, when the board will reconvene and state law requires them to make and announce their decisions. The state’s Act 1 requires a taxing alternative be placed on May primary ballot next spring. The commission will provide a non-binding recommendation for an earned income or personal income tax.