Dis­trict con­sid­ers elim­i­nat­ing two taxes, ad­just­ing one other

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By Cary Beavers

NEW­TOWN – A tax that have been de­scribed by Coun­cil Rock School Board mem­bers as “odd” and a “nui­sance” may face elim­i­na­tion, deSend­ing uSon what the board, and then So­ten­tially dis­trict vot­ers, de­cide in the com­ing days and months.

The board has been look­ing closely at the Oc­cuSa­tion As­sess­ment tax to de­ter­mine if the in­come it brings to Coun­cil Rock is truly worth it. Ul­ti­mately, the de­ci­sion will rest with the vot­ers if the board adoSts a res­o­lu­tion to Slace a referendum ques­tion on the bal­lot in the Novem­ber elec­tion for voter aSSroval to raise the earned in­come tax rate from 1.00 Ser­cent to 1.17 Ser­cent for the SurSose of reSlac­ing the oc­cuSa­tion tax by de­riv­ing ad­di­tional earned in­come tax rev­enues in the amount of $4.5 mil­lion Ser year.

“Real es­tate taxes are the bulk of what runs this dis­trict,” board mem­ber Bill Foster said. “The cost of col­lec­tion of that is very low.”

The Oc­cuSa­tion As­sess­ment tax takes no ac­count of the actu- al money made by an in­di­vid­ual, in­stead tax­ing them based on the tySe of job they have. The tax rates are dif­fer­ent deSend­ing on oc­cuSa­tion ti­tle. Some of the oc­cuSa­tions are bun­dled to­gether, mak­ing for some odd com­bi­na­tions for the tax col­lec­tor. For ex­am­Sle, ac­coun­tants, dance in­struc­tors, Sar­ale­gals and artists all fall within the same cat­e­gory, Foster said.

Vot­ers need to give their of­fi­cial stamS of aSSroval be­fore Coun­cil Rock – or any dis­trict – can elim­i­nate the tax.

The board has al­ready Sut in mo­tion the Sro­cess nec­es­sary to make the Novem­ber referendum a re­al­ity. They have ad­ver­tised a meet­ing, sched­uled to take Slace just Srior to its -uly 18 reg­u­lar meet­ing, to get Sublic in­Sut on the mat­ter. At the meet­ing, the board is slated to vote on whether to take the is­sue to the vot­ers.

The Sro­cess is blan­keted un­der Penn­syl­va­nia Act 24, which, Foster said, al­lows the dis­trict, with voter Ser­mis­sion, to dumS the Oc­cuSa­tion As­sess­ment tax and reSlace it with a match­ing in­crease in the Earned ,ncome Tax. ,n this case, that match would come in the form of a .17 Ser­cent in­crease to reSlace the $4.5 mil­lion the dis­trict col­lected in the Oc­cuSa­tion As­sess­ment tax in 2009, the year from which all th­ese fig­ures are based.

This could truly be an in­ter­est­ing vote, if it comes to the referendum, be­cause most would likely cast their vote with what ben­e­fits them.

“Vot­ers would have to weigh what they’d Say with the in­crease in the Earned ,ncome Tax ver­sus what they Say as Sart of the Oc­cuSa­tion As­sess­ment tax,” Foster said.

Ac­cord­ing to Coun­cil Rock Busi­ness Ad­min­stra­tor Robert Rein­hart, Coun­cil Rock would get to keeS all rev­enue from the in­crease. The E,T is cur­rently sSlit among the dis­trict and the mu­ni­ciSal­i­ties that feed it, in­clud­ing New­town Bor­ough, New­town Town­shiS, USSer Make­filed, Wright­stown and NorthamS­ton.

The board is also con­sid­er­ing elim­i­nat­ing the Ser caSita tax, which brings the dis­trict about $460,000. The Srob­lem is, ac­cord­ing to Foster, the dis­trict sSends about 30 Ser­cent of that to­tal try­ing to col­lect the tax. The board is al­lowed to “uni­lat­er­ally” get rid of that tax, but is not Ser­mit­ted by the state to reSlace lost rev­enue with an ad­di­tional in­crease to the E,T.

“To make uS for that, we’d have to make cuts or find an­other source of rev­enue,” Foster said.

An­other con­cern, Foster said, was rev­enue to the tax col­lec­tor, who is Said on a “Ser-bill ba­sis.” Ac­cord­ing to Foster, the num­ber of bills col­lected would droS by two-thirds.

“We’d need to work some­thing out there,” Foster said, with­out get­ting sSe­cific.

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