CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield County Commissioners on Tuesday were asked to rethink a proposal that, if approved, would increase the county’s tax ratio.
On Dec. 21, the commissioners authorized Solicitor Heather Bozovich to initiate the process of adjusting the county’s pre-determined ratio for future board consideration.
The pre-determined ratio means the ratio of assessed value to market value established and uniformly applied in determining assessed value in any year.
The county’s ratio has been set at 25 percent since 1989, but under state law, it can be set up to 100 percent, which Bozovich previously said is her recommendation to the commissioners.
Under her proposal, county taxing entities would also have to reduce their millage rates, which in turn would create a “net-zero” effect and not result in any type of tax increase.
“… This change may be coming,” Bozovich said in December, “but it will not have any impact on taxes. Only taxing authorities can increase taxes by increasing their millage.”
At that time, she said the county will prepare an ordinance for consideration in early spring, and if approved, changes to the county’s pre-determined ratio would take effect in 2023.
During public comment Tuesday, citizen Robert Fitzmaurice said presently the county, municipalities and school boards have to watch their budgets because they are near millage limits.
“They have to figure out how to deal with what they have…,” he said. “This proposal would allow a 10 percent increase in taxes for next year and carte blanche in following years.
“If they no longer have to figure out what to do with what they have, they simply raise taxes,” which he added would place a significant burden on both renters and homeowners.
He said landlords would just raise rent to pay the tax, and because he’s been an AARP Tax-Aide volunteer for 25 years, he’s seen the tax returns for seniors and low-income individuals.
“If you could see their income, including Social Security, … and how they struggle to make ends meet, I sincerely believe you would rethink your proposal.”
Fitzmaurice said shopping trips for basic items have become more costly and gas prices have risen by a dollar over last year. “Inflation is at its highest rate in almost 40 years with no end in sight.
“Your proposal isn’t coming at the best time. I realize school boards are having difficulty meeting their various local, state and federal mandates.
“I [also] realize the county, boroughs and townships are having difficulty meeting the needs of their citizens, but these problems should be secondary to citizens meeting their basic, family needs.”
Fitzmaurice concluded his remarks by respectfully requesting that the board of commissioners put a hold on its proposed tax ratio increase.