If your Cambria County taxes seem
to be skyrocketing...read on


Letter No. 321 | April 4, 2005

(Using approximations here that do not change the context or content meaning)

As eveyone knows the governor raised the personal income tax 1/2 per cent.

As everyone is aware the County Commissioners raised property taxes in December 2003 14 per cent; then in January 2004 another 14 per cent; then in December 2004 another half mill added.

Public knowledge that our illustrious Governor got slots approved in Pa. and is to use the proceeds to help reduce your local school tax. Nice thought. However there is a requirement that the school district first RAISE school taxes before they can apply for the money. Applying DOES NOT guarentee that you get the money, only that you will be considered.

There is a movement in the State Legislature to lower the state sales tax from 6 per cent to 5 per cent. However all the items that are exempt from sales tax such as groceries, clothes, medicine etc will be taxed like they now do in Maryland & WV & I'm sure other states. The extra revenue (yes folks, you're overall taxes will go up) will help to reduce your 1/2 per cent school taxes on property and income. Could swear I heard this somewhere else.

What's with all those photographs?

The County Commissioners have engaged L. Robert Kimball of Ebensburg to make aerial photographs of all of Cambria County. This is given to a computer graphics company that is electronically combining all the photos into one giant photo. This is to be done every two years. The computer will compare the new photos to the old ones and point out differences such as renovations, expansions and adding buildings. Since this is being done under the Tax Assessment office, one can conclude / guess / assume that changes to the good will get you a tax increase; changes removing buildings will still require you to request a cut in taxes. I have been shown the results and as of February 2005 the western 1/3 of county is completed and the middle 1/3 of county is now being mapped. This is called Project Magic by the county.

Another project being attempted by the county is also under the Tax Assessment office. The county is trying to put in place a $1.5 million computer upgrade. With this they hope to take all the tax maps and place them on this computer setup (a good idea it would seem). HOWEVER after this is done they then want to get the right of way and easement information from the Johnstown, Ebensburg, Blacklick Municipal Joint venture (There is in progress a joint water venture between the three locations to provide more water to areas that need it). It might be nice to go to there and find if there are any right of ways on a property that you might want to purchase. HOWEVER think about this. Would the county spend $1.5 million to reduce the property tax because you have a right of way that you can't do anything with except mow the grass? Not likely. Would the county spend $1.5 million to give us this info and keep our taxes the same? Not likely. OH, by the way, did I mention that three times during the conversation where this information was presented to me, that the man from the tax assessment office mentioned that when you add water / sewage at or near your property you increase the property value. I wonder where this is heading.

Though not local, look at your phone bill be it home or cell. Look at what you are charged by the phone company; then at the additional government taxes / surcharges. Do the math, bet it is 15 per cent or more.

Back to our illustrious Governor. In these times of somewhat high fuel prices he (and legislature) added about 4 1/2 cents taxes to fuel recently.

Speaking of fuel prices. In Pa every fuel tank is required to be registered with DEP. In addition the owner is required to pay a $50.00 per year fee as insurance in case of a leak. When set up this fund was prohibited from being used by the legislature for any reason. Recently they found a loophole and "borrowed" around $100 million from this fund. (Please note that this fund is so overfunded they can't spend the money fast enough for its intended purpose). There is a proposal as I type to take the fee schedule and change it so that any tank under 8,000 gallon capacity be raised to $100 yearly. Tanks 8,000 gallon and above be increased to $200 yearly. I am certified by the state to work on petroleum equipment. Every individual so certified is required to pay the state a $1000.00 per year fee also into this fund.

Take the infamous CAT fund. Every traffic ticket written in the state for the past 25 plus years includes a $25.00 fee for this fund for people who are seriously injured in auto accidents and exceed their insurance coverage limits. Lotta money here folks. The fund put a freeze on any new claims at least 20 years ago. The cat fund was done away with by the legislature a year or two ago, it no longer exists, but they are still collecting it. As a note in PA. Get a traffic ticket, the fine is $25.00; after they add all the cost, fees, etc the total is well over $100.00.

It has been law for several years that if you speed in a construction zone that the fines are doubled. Pa. is now starting to designate speed safety zones. No construction, just a designated safety zone where fines are doubled. Saw my first one on Interstate 81 near Harrisburg.

In the last four to five months there has been a very large upsurge in the state police protecting us by greatly expanding their efforts to curtail speeding and issuing speeding tickets.

DEP has a new person at the helm. In past the Department has had a policy (in the petroleum end) to get people to correct problems and the look at fines if warranted. The new policy now is to get people motivated by fining them as a first or second resort rather than as a last resort.

The list goes on and on. I realize that the last part is not about taxes per se. However my OWN PERSONAL OPINION is that call it what you will, if the INTENT is to increase revenues for use by the government it is a tax. The changing of direction in several agencies from doing what they have done in the past to using it as a revenue generating source is to me a tax.

Comments, opinions and whatever requested.

(Desmond Warzel, Belsano)




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