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Mom, farmer among the members of new tax group

September 07, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - From a list of 32 applicants, the Chambersburg School Board Wednesday selected nine people ranging from a retired executive to a mom to serve on its Tax Study Commission.

The commission has 90 days to come up with a recommendation on how to shift local taxes away from real estate, under the mandate of Pennsylvania's Act 1. By December, the commission must also draft a ballot question for district voters that will appear on the May 2007 primary ballot.

The nine are: Brian Blevins, a farmer; Raymond Kane, a retired vice president of manufacturing; Monica Kelso, a personal chef and caterer; Troy Meck, who works in construction; Barbara Montgomery, a retired nurse; Tony Pananes, who is self-employed; Greg Paulson, a college professor; Allen Piper, who is in real estate; and Kathy Stauffer, a mother.

Occupation, gender, age, homeownership and having children were among the criteria the board looked at among the applicants, said Lori Leedy, the board's finance chairwoman.

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All are from the Chambersburg area, except Blevins, who is from Newburg, Pa., and Meck, who lives in Fayetteville, Pa., according to the list.

The first meeting of the group will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21, prior to a teleconference by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association on Act 1, Business Manager Rick Vensel said. Act 1 is a revision of Act 72 of 2004, which only about 20 percent of the state's 501 school districts adopted.

The commission's meeting will be open to the public and it will have to hold a public hearing on its recommendations, Vensel said. The commission will organize at its first meeting and set a schedule of future meetings, he said.

"Act 1 is a terrible, terrible law," said Piper, the one person named to the commission who attended Wednesday's school board meeting. The law gives "minimal leverage to taxpayers, but it is a start," he said.

The commission can recommend raising the earned income tax collected by the district, or create a personal income tax, which would make some investment income taxable in addition to payrolls, according to the law. The money raised by the earned income or personal income taxes would be used to reduce property taxes, along with some of the revenue that would eventually be raised by slot machine operations in the state.

Piper, who is also president of the Chambersburg Taxpayers Association/ Citizens for Responsible Government, said he has not formed an opinion on which tax the district should implement.

A consulting firm will also be hired to assist the commission in its work at a cost of $8,000 to $10,000, Vensel said.

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