County needs lesson in math

We are all prone to do stupid things and stupidity can usually be over looked or forgiven. As far as Blair County government goes, it blew past stupidity a long time ago.

We are less than a year from our first payment of newly assessed property values and the county is again going to need a tax anticipation note (TAN) to carry them over till this year’s property tax revenues arrive. The use of TANs costs the property taxpayers even more money for interest.

On top of the revenue they received from front-loading our newly assessed values by a certain percentage, county government still cannot budget a full year of monthly budgets.

Evidently adding and subtracting are a chore and the need for a little division is really pushing it. These people aren’t worth their wages, and the county finance director should be fired.

Next, we property owners are obligated to pay off a $7.2 million bond for capital improvements over a 15-year period. As this bond is long term, we might as well resign ourselves that it will become a permanent cost, because after 15 years it will be gobbled up by other expenses, more electronic gizmos that become obsolete or incompatible shortly out of their box, or other bright ideas.

This is the same kind of creative accounting the school districts do.

The most recent bright idea being floated by the commissioners is to reassess every seven to eight years. I’m guessing, but after a reassessment, the county millage cap of 30 mills is also reset.

It took 58 years for Blair County to reach the millage cap. That works out on average to a little over a half mill per year. The county never got serious about cutting costs until it was up against the cap.

Therefore, if the commissioners want to reassess every seven to eight years, under the guise of fairness and uniformity, then put the millage cap down proportionally to about 3.5 to 4 mills over the seven- or eight-year period — in the interest of fairness and uniformity.

Pension plan costs are one of the county’s major expenses. If pension plans are mandated by the state for county employees then let the state pay the bill. Otherwise, let the sword of reassessment cut the other way on these pension plans.

Then, in the name of jobs, the county will defer property taxes for five years for some alphabet company. Jobs are important but jobs come and go. We need our homes in the interim.

About two weeks prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, the Mirror ran an article indicating over 700 properties were in peril due to unpaid property taxes. How many people does this situation put in peril — 700, 1,400, 2,100? These are all casualties of systematic incompetence from county and state government.

Put in another perspective, if 700 casualties showed up on UPMC’s doorsteps, it would be a calamity. If 1,400 showed up the area hospitals would be calling on the Red Cross, and for 2,100 casualties to show up, they would be calling out the National Guard.

This country is supposed to be the home of the brave and the free. It looks like the county and school districts will tax us out of our homes because we aren’t brave enough to defend them and, regrettably, it can then be said, as the lyrics of an old folk song from the ’60s go, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

Fred Albright

Hollidaysburg

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