Lawmaker Unveils Innovative, Controversial Property Tax Reform Plan that Includes Taxing Retirement Income

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, held a news conference two weeks ago where he discussed yet-to-be-introduced legislation (H.B. 13) that calls for the elimination of school property taxes in the Commonwealth with new revenue derived, in part, through a retirement income tax.

Specifically, the proposal intends to generate $15 billion annually in replacement revenue for the state’s school districts through:

  • A 4.92 percent retirement income tax, excluding Social Security benefits
  • A 1.85 percent local Personal Income Tax (in addition to the state’s 3.07 percent PIT)
  • A local Sales and Use Tax of 2 percent on items that are already subject to the state Sales Tax; and
  • A local Sales Tax of 2 percent that would be added to most food and clothing, which are currently exempt from the state Sales Tax.

Property tax reform is an ongoing, hot button issue in Pennsylvania, as these tax rates have risen precipitously in certain areas of the state, making it difficult for some homeowners to continue affording their properties.  One of the most debated legislative “fixes” has been a proposal to replace school property taxes with increases to the Sales and Personal Income Taxes, along with the expansion of the Sales Tax base to additional goods and services.  The PA Chamber stands in opposition to this proposal because it would simply “shift” the tax burden from one segment of taxpayers to another and target renters, small businesses and young families; and would rely on volatile taxes that tend to fluctuate more with the economy.  Tax experts and school officials have warned this framework would put school districts and the entire Commonwealth on financially shaky ground.

As noted by PA Chamber Vice President Sam Denisco at a recent property tax-focused public forum, Rep. Ryan’s bill presents an outside-the-box way of approaching the state’s property tax issues and should be discussed by lawmakers.  At his news conference last week, Ryan stressed that his plan is unlikely to pass without the support of Pennsylvania seniors, admitting that “this is not going to be an easy sell.”

Rep. Ryan’s news conference was covered by various media outlets, including Pennlive which noted the PA Chamber’s previous comments about his proposal.

Member News – September 11, 2019

  • Bold Gold Media Group’s Northeast PA based FM rock station, ‘The River 105 & 103.5’ made radio history recently by surpassing 1,000,000 Likes on Facebook, @TheRiverNEPA. The River has become the most followed social media page based within Northeast PA and one of the most followed radio station social sites in the United States. Although The River is based in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market, its social following has exceeded that of radio stations based in larger markets such as New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. Known for its rock music news, humor, arts and entertainment updates and local information, the station’s online following has seen rapid growth locally, regionally, nationally, and more recently, internationally. Bold Gold Media Group owns and operates 14 full power radio stations throughout the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Northern Poconos of Pennsylvania and the Catskills/Hudson Valley region of New York. 

 

  • The Ken Pollock Auto Group will hold a car seat safety check in conjunction with the PA State Police on Thursday, Sept. 19, from 2-5 p.m., at its Tire and Auto Center, located at 88 Wyoming Valley Mall Blvd, Wilkes-Barre. 

 

  • The Danville Area Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, will hold its grant awards breakfast on Wednesday, Oct. 9, from 8:30-10 a.m., at the Meadows Community Center at the Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community. This event annually celebrates the investments made to community organizations through the work of the DACF. Local nonprofit organizations will be presented with 2019 grant awards during the breakfast. Reservations are required but there is no cost to attend (see printed invitation). To reserve your seat, please contact Katie Simpson by email or at 570-752-3930 by Oct. 2.

American Pickers to Film in Pennsylvania

Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz, and their team are excited to return to Pennsylvania! They plan to film episodes of the hit series American Pickers throughout Pennsylvania this November.

American Pickers is a documentary series that explores the fascinating world of antique “picking” on the History Channel. The hit show follows Mike and Frank, two of the most skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques. They are always excited to find sizeable, unique collections and learn the interesting stories behind them.

As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, Mike and Frank are on a mission to recycle and rescue forgotten relics. Along the way, the Pickers want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items. The pair hopes to give historically significant objects a new lease on life, while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way.

Mike and Frank have seen a lot of rusty gold over the years and are always looking to discover something they’ve never seen before. They are ready to find extraordinary items and hear fascinating tales about them. American Pickers is looking for leads and would love to explore your hidden treasure. If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the Pickers can spend the better part of the day looking through, send your name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to:

[email protected] or call 855-OLD-RUST.

facebook: @GotAPick

164th Bloomsburg Fair Opens Next Week

The annual Bloomsburg Fair preview luncheon was held on Wednesday, Sept. 4, during which new exhibits, vendors and changes for this year’s event were announced. This year’s fair, which runs from Sept. 20-28, will once again feature several Chamber members as vendors, as well as, for the third consecutive year, a special day for the Ronald McDonald House of Danville.

On Tuesday, Sept. 24, for each regular priced $8 admission ticket sold, $1 will go to benefit the RMHD and its mission of providing a “home away from home” for parents and families of children that are being treated for cancer or other serious illness. This marks the third straight year that the Fair is partnering with RMHD for this promotion.  

WBRE-TV, which put together the news report below on fair preview day, will once again have live broadcasts from the fair all throughout fair week. 

For the first time in the event’s history, there will be a fair queen, which is being sponsored by First Keystone Community Bank. Nicolette Cusate, a Danville native and recent graduate of Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech, was named the inaugural fair queen. 

In addition to First Keystone, several other Chamber members are also fair sponsors, including: Geisinger, PenTeleData, First Columbia Bank & Trust, Renco Ace Hardware, AO Rent, Mahindra of Bloomsburg, PPL Electric Utilities, Ken Pollock Ford Lincoln, Safelite Auto Glass and Lamar Advertising


 

Nearly 900 vendors are also signed up to attend and participate at the fair. They include Chamber members the Columbia Montour Area Agency on Aging, the Columbia Montour Visitors BureauGeisingerJ.A. Aten Beef Jerky & Best Bar-B-Q SauceLuzerne County Community CollegeMahindra of Bloomsburg, On Fire Promotions, Penn CollegeRenco Ace HardwareSteph’s Subs, Town of Bloomsburg and Wesley United Methodist Church


Camp Victory Cuts Ribbon on Expanded and Refurbished Welcome Center

(L-R): Jason Fink, president, Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce; Josey Wolff; Denny Wolff, Camp Victory founder and board president; Kate Pacacha, Camp Victory; Karl Girton, Camp Victory board member; Jamie Huntley, Camp Victory; Kate Stepnick, Camp Victory; Fred Gaffney, president, Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce

As part of its annual Community Open House held on Sunday, Sept. 8, Camp Victory also held a ribbon cutting for its newly expanded and refurbished Welcome Center. The Welcome Center was expanded earlier this year as additional offices and a small camp store were added. The new addition includes space for two administrative offices and a store that sells Camp Victory t-shirts, pins, and other souvenirs. Other parts of the building were also refurbished and refreshed.

Camp Victory saw a record turnout of more than 400 people come out to the event to take part on rock wall climbing, zip lining, paddle boating and several other activities throughout the campground. Check out Camp Victory’s Facebook page for photos from the event.  

“From April to October, we are so happy to host thousands of special campers – kids with cancer, autism, diabetes, heart disease, spina bifida and more, all have their own week to come to summer camp and just enjoy being kids,” explained Kate Pacacha, Camp Victory’s resource development associate. “Everything here is accessible to all abilities.

“We are very fortunate to have an army volunteers and many generous donors, both individuals and companies, so we started having an annual open house to thank our neighbors for their support. We’re a very small, efficient staff – just two full-time year-round people, and four part-time year-round people. But we needed a little more room to grow. We work hard to keep costs to our campers at a bare minimum yet give them an incredible experience at a facility unlike any other in the state.”

WBRE-TV also came to the event and put together this news story.