Franklin County, state officials discuss issues


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County government and school officials met as a group with state legislators for the first time Saturday to discuss issues of local concern.

Held at the Chambersburg Recreation Center, the Franklin County Council of Governments Legislative Conference was organized by Bill McLaughlin, president of the Chambersburg Borough Council.

Borough and township officials first met in breakout groups to prioritize their issues and concerns. They then presented their conclusions to the state legislators in attendance, which included Sen. Terry L. Punt, R-Franklin; Rep. Jeffrey W. Coy, D-Franklin/Cumberland; Rep. Patrick E. Fleagle, R-Franklin; Rep. Stephen Maitland, R-Franklin; and a representative from the office of Rep. C. Allan Egolf, R-Franklin.

One of the issues was a proposed 2-cent tax on gasoline.

"The money would go 100 percent into the municipal pool," said Michael Christopher, Washington Township manager. "It would double the amount of money available to repair roads.


"We'd be able to build an infrastructure out of that fund without fighting for state and federal funding," Christopher said. "We'd have wider, safer roads, which would affect economic development."

Sewage issues

Sewage issues were also discussed. Christopher said Washington Township is the first township to be required to pump septic tanks periodically.

Teresa Schnoor, administrator for Antrim Township, said no waste treatment centers will accept the sludge and that there are problems with spreading it on farm fields.

Christopher added that he would like to see a regional waste treatment facility built in Antrim Township to pretreat the sludge and release the liquids to the current treatment plants.

"We could be a demonstration project for Pennsylvania, but we need money to do this," he said.

The cost of the treatment center is estimated at $2 million.

Tax reform was important to the borough officials.

Clint Barkdoll of Waynesboro Borough Council said the group wants the option to pick the best mix of taxes for their municipality without a referendum. They also want tax reform to address the distinction between primary residences and other properties.

Taxes discussed

The commuter tax and public safety tax were also mentioned.

McLaughlin said Chambersburg has 18,000 residents and 24,000 jobs.

"Most (workers) live outside the borough," he said. "The borough of Chambersburg needs a way to pay for the services we provide to support the employment base."

The wage tax that workers pay goes to the municipality where they live, but the municipality in which they work provides safety and other services to them.

There was general agreement that homeland security and emergency preparedness must be addressed at a regional level first. Some conferees thought the money for those programs should be allocated on a per capita basis and not through grants.

Coy cautioned against per capita distributions because the local area would not receive as much.

Chambersburg Borough Manager Eric Oyer asked how local government can have a greater impact on the political process. He added that the change in the tax structure is important to him.

Coy said, "Pennsylvania is diverse from corner to corner, and legislation reflects the diversity of the constituency."

He said there is a possibility of tax reform in this legislative session.

McLaughlin said his goal in organizing the event was to get the elected officials together to share ideas, find solutions to problems and prepare a unified legislative agenda to take to the representatives.

"We have a number of things we agree on. We'll put together a final report, and push it in Harrisburg," he said.

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