Sounding off: Property tax thwarts homeowners’ plans | TribLIVE.com
Letters to the Editor

Sounding off: Property tax thwarts homeowners’ plans

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The Mexican War Streets Historic District in Pittsburgh’s North Side.

My wife and I have reached the point in our lives where the kids are gone and our older home and land require more work than we’re able/willing to do, so we are attempting to downsize to a smaller property.

Unfortunately, a prohibiting factor is the high property tax on relatively newer homes that in most cases is two to three times our current tax rate and increasing every year. Most older homes in our price range with comparable taxes to what we currently pay require significant upgrades. We’ve considered subdividing a portion of our land and building a smaller home, but have been informed by township officials that there is no way to predict the future tax levy.

So, what do we do on our fixed income? We’d like to stay where we are, but the reality of physical limitations is an overriding concern. Should we purchase a smaller property with higher taxes and hope we can make future payments? Purchase and renovate a property, or build and hope we can handle the new tax? Or, do we leave family and friends and move to a more tax-friendly state?

We’d prefer to see the Legislature and governor gather the political will to address the property tax issue to the benefit of our senior citizens. No more empty promises like gambling revenue being used to reduce property taxes. Many seniors on fixed incomes are having to make decisions between eating, health care and paying property taxes. Now is the time to address it.

Richard Herd, Hempfield


Get informed on guns, NRA

Another biased and ill-informed letter from Robert Jedrzejewski (“NRA’s terroristic ways”) — on 9/11 no less. We of the NRA use the organization to lobby just like unions, businesses and other organizations. We don’t have to agree, just express our wishes. It would be nice if people checked facts instead of being confused by them.

The “terrorist” NRA provides training for our military and law enforcement — terrifying, isn’t it? The “hostages” it holds are also held by anti-gun groups, education unions and myriad others. Has anyone made a threat against your life? It has happened to some of our members, and that is a terroristic threat — which can be a felony.

Automatic weapons have been restricted since the 1930s. AR rifles are not military assault weapons; in fact, they were developed as semiautomatics for civilians and modified and adopted by our military.

The Second Amendment is not about hunting but is a means to protect ourselves and the Constitution, including the First Amendment Jedrzejewski likes to exercise. I spent nine years helping to defend those rights even though I disagreed with some of them. So please, if you want to express your opinion, get properly informed.

Allen Clark, Avonmore


Gov. Wolf’s charter fee-for-service model robs students

Imagine your house was robbed, and you called the police to report the incident. Yet, before the police step in to solve the case, you must pay a substantial fee for their help in recovering your stolen property. Sounds backwards, right?

Well, that’s the same logic at play in Gov. Tom Wolf’s latest “fee-for-service” proposal aimed at charter schools described in “Gov. Wolf announces new fees for Pennsylvania charter schools.”

Wolf wants charter schools to pay a fee to get funding issues resolved when a school district refuses to transfer the proper per-student funds to the family’s chosen school. In other words, charters are punished for school districts’ misbehavior.

That’s backwards and will hurt charter students by incentivizing districts to cut or dispute funding meant to follow a student to his or her school of choice. Instead, the governor should require that school districts pay for their own violation of state law.

Bleeding charter schools dry through fees and restricting students’ access to quality schools with red tape is politics at its worst. This sort of favoritism exacerbates the rivalry between schools that should be working together to educate our children.

Marc LeBlond, Harrisburg

The writer is a senior policy analyst with the Commonwealth Foundation.


Further grouping the deplorables

Hillary Clinton was wrong to call then-candidate Donald Trump’s supporters “deplorables.” Had she sub-grouped the Trumpites, as follows below, voters might have understood her point.

The enablers comprise one segment of Trump’s followers. They cringe at his lies and behavior and hate his tweets, but their GOP roots keep them mute, betraying their own values. Evangelicals give hypocrisy a bad name as they provide cover to the enablers.

Rallygoers, Trump’s most vocal group, clad in MAGA caps and T-shirts, swoon at his presence and swallow his lies as he mouths their inner thoughts. They dream of televised interviews where they’ll display their hatred of the reporter and show their ignorance.

The sycophants are elected officials or political appointees fearing Trump. They cower and tremble at the mention of his name (think Mitch McConnell). Privately they despise him, but refuse to say it.

The toadies include congressmen Guy Reschenthaler and Mike Kelley, who long for a ride on Air Force One or a call from the Oval Office. Having no original thoughts, they devour Republican National Committee talking points while sucking up to White House staff.

Following the white nationalist torch parade in Charlottesville, Va., with a cast of anti-Semites, neo-Nazis and Klanners, Trump opined there were some “very fine people” among the marchers. Using his standard, I have to say the same of the above groups.

Glenn R. Plummer, Unity


Tom Wolf right to act on charter schools

I am writing to inform op-ed writer Colleen Cook (“Tom Wolf’s attack on charter schools unfair”) that Gov. Tom Wolf’s attempt to fix the problems with the state’s charter schools is spot on, particularly those that are cybercharter schools.

While your son has benefited from taking his classes this way, many do not. Want proof? Go to the Pennsylvania Department of Education website and look up the graduation rates of these charter and cybercharter schools. It is rare to find a charter cyberschool with a graduation rate above 60%. While many charter schools are very successful, some have poor graduation rates.

Most public high schools have graduation rates around 80-90%. The state puts the average graduation rate of all the state’s schools at 86% for the 2016-17 school year. The state also has a program to push future graduation rates up to 92%. Many charter schools are already there, as are the traditional district high schools. Cybercharter schools don’t even come close.

Richard Patton, Franklin Township, Beaver County


Bills would work to end gerrymandering

Let’s work together to stop partisan gerrymandering. Gerrymandering puts power in the hands of a few — the politicians — at the expense of the rest of us — the citizenry.

We can stop this crooked process by telling our state reps that we support House Bills 22 and 23. Citizens’ activist groups are demanding reform in how legislative districts are created, as evidenced by high-profile court cases in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Maryland.

If passed, the bills will create an independent 11-member citizens redistricting commission consisting of four Democrats, four Republicans and three other members tasked with creating fairer, more compact, contiguous districts that don’t resemble odd shapes. Under proposed new rules, political lines that “crack” constituencies — i.e., divide them between districts — will not be permitted in the state House.

Who among us can afford another decade of unaccountable government? These odd-shaped districts produce gridlock, and little legislation gets passed. Before the end of the current legislative session, contact your legislators and encourage them to co-sponsor House Bills 22 and 23.

Since the inception of our republic and its beginnings as a fledgling democracy, political districts have been crafted by the party in power in such a manner as to create fiefdoms for the “elites” to reign over the masses. We must change the redistricting process with legislation and/or a voter referendum.

Learn more about the proposed “two bills, one commission” at fairdistrictspa.com/solution.

George A. Karpacs, South Park Township


Youth, vaping, climate

Regarding two prominent topics in the Sept. 20 edition (“Vaping defense is up in smoke”; “Greensburg joins in Global Climate Strike”): Our youth are not educated, enlightened and mature enough to grasp the fact that sucking an unknown foreign substance directly into their little pink lungs is dangerous (basic anatomy/physiology), but they are able to grasp the “science” and politics of climate change, thus joining a worldwide protest? It’s all about power and money. Think, people, think!

Pam Hohal, Hempfield

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