Building will trigger Altoona’s downfall

With the arrival of the latest Altoona Area School District tax bill, I can’t help but think back to Superintendent’s Charles Prijatelj speech that the tax increase will only be about $21 per home.

Maybe $21 isn’t much to someone who is making a six-figure income off of the taxpayers’ wallet, but to all those living on retirement and working all the low-income jobs in Altoona making $20,000 or less a year, $21 is a lot of money.

I also think about all the recent closings around Altoona, which has put a lot of workers out of an income-producing job. Carol Cable, Danny’s Metals, North American Communications, Seymore Brothers block, Helsel Hardware, Toys R Us, K-Mart and Sears are just to name a few. Even Norfolk Southern is laying off workers.

Where are all these employees going to find local work? One new Rutters store built in Altoona cannot employ them all.

This new high school building project will eventually bring the AASD down. It was rushed into just so some people could say they made it happen. Look what we got. All the change orders made already prove that this project was rushed into without good, solid planning.

When I went to high school in Altoona, we held classes in the old brownstone building with vo-tech and gym classes held in the basement, and we had twice as many graduates back then as they have now.

And we made it.

But I do wonder what will happen in a few years down the road when all the laid off workers and retirement-age citizens leave Altoona for areas with more jobs and lower taxes?

All those homes left behind will be up for sheriff’s sale for unpaid taxes, and no one will want to purchase them and move here because of no jobs and high taxes.

Of course, by then Prijatelj will have moved on to another high-paying job at another school district.

But remember, it is only a $21 tax increase per home this year.

Leonard E. Alwine

Class of 1970