Burns: Johnstown should abandon quest for 200 percent tax hike
City exits Act 47, but wants to keep high Local Services Tax levy
EBENSBURG, June 23 – Buoyed by unanimous support for his position from an online poll, state Rep. Frank Burns opposes Johnstown’s quest to sock anyone who works in the city with a 200% tax hike after the city graduated from a state program to oversee financially distressed communities.
The Financially Distressed Municipalities Act, known as Act 47, permitted Johnstown to levy a Local Services Tax of $3 per week on anyone employed and working in the city, but that tax fell to $1 per week as Johnstown recently exited Act 47 oversight after 30 years.
However, Johnstown city officials want to keep taxing folks at the higher rate, even though Act 47 no longer applies. They want state elected officials, including Burns, to carve out a special exception in state law so they can keep collecting lots of money – an extra $900,000 a year, to be exact.
Burns said the tax hike permitted by Act 47 wasn’t intended to last in perpetuity and should revert to its former level, a position supported by 96 respondents to a poll he posted on the 5,000-member “Revitalize Johnstown” Facebook page. Keeping the tax higher than required didn’t garner a single vote.
“As the city finally puts Act 47 in the rearview mirror, it shouldn’t take a crowbar to pry Johnstown chieftains away from continued suckling at the taxpayers’ bosom.” – Rep. Burns
“The people are speaking – and city officials should abandon their quest for continuation of this money grab,” Burns said. “As the city finally puts Act 47 in the rearview mirror, it shouldn’t take a crowbar to pry Johnstown chieftains away from continued suckling at the taxpayers’ bosom.”
Burns believes if Johnstown is finally on solid enough financial footing to shed state oversight, it should celebrate that achievement without fishing for a way to keep collecting taxes designed to last only until solvency was achieved.