Commission will be a taxing experience

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:17

    Westfall - The Delaware Valley School Board wants you! The job doesn’t pay and may require a commitment of up to two hours a week, for four months. “Don’t tell them that. You’ll scare a lot of people away talking about two hours a week,” said board member Jack Fisher after Board President Sue Casey suggested details in advertising for members. “Just say four months,” he added. The job in question is a seat on tax study commission which the board is mandated to appoint by Sept. 14. The state’s new Taxpayer Relief Act calls for the commission to examine the district’s tax policies. By Dec. 13, the commission will report back with non-binding recommendations about new taxes to shift the burden of education costs away from the property tax. The state says the commission must recommend for either the creation of a new local earned income tax or a local personal income tax. Delaware Valley is among the minority of Pennsylvania school districts which currently employs neither of these taxes. School board members and district officials say the commission also has the option of making no recommendation at all, in other words, no new taxes. But the work of the commission was less a concern than the recruiting of its members as the school board met last Thursday. Polling the eight members present, the consensus called for a nine member panel, possibly even including alternate members as in jury selection. The commission could include a board member. Several expressed interest in following the work of the commission but no one volunteered. How do they go about finding those who would volunteer? Fisher noted that most board members have “shadows, ” with similar views and if board members proposed those who would reflect board members’ positions’, the voters would be served. Frankie Colletta said three people have already asked him about serving. Bell Smith said the board stay as far away from the process as possible. Commission members should not be handpicked and “I don’t think any board members should be there,” she said. There was consensus that the board’s solicitor Michael Weinstein could be available to act as a facilitator for the commission’s meetings. John Wroblewski insisted on advertising to get a wide cross-section of participants. Casey said it would be wrong to have people express interest by applying only to be turned away in favor of an invited candidate. The discussion eventually led to an agreement on advertising in various media and putting an online interactive application on the school’s website, . The application would include questions about living situations - own or rent; income - working or retired; place of residence and length of residence. “We can ask anything we want. We’re not hiring anybody,” Casey said. The district will accept applications through Aug. 30 and the board will meet in a special 7:30 p.m., Aug. 31, open worksession to review applications. For the sake of candidate’s privacy and the board’s candor, the applications will be numbered and candidate’s names will not be used during the open selection process. In other business last week, Casey asked for last minute status reports from district staff prior to the Aug. 28, first day of school. She also added her directive to staff. “We’ve given you what you need to set the bar higher. We (on the board) have higher expectations (for results).” In an unrelated matter Superintendent Dr. Candis Finan said the district would start the term with a new emphasis on reducing absenteeism and truancy. She said she has met with the District Magistrates in the school district to discuss legal ramifications for parents. “I don’t think it’s a big problem, but if a student is chronically 15 minutes late, morning and afternoon, that time adds up over a school year.”