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Don't forget tax liability, Connellsville Township residents told

| Friday, March 9, 2012

Connellsville Township officials made residents and those who work in the township aware of their tax liability after secretary Leah Brothers reported receiving a number of calls since residents received per capita tax notices and those who work in the township experienced payroll deductions for the Local Services Tax, which the township enacted effective Jan. 1.

Residents have also been asking about statements from the Central Tax Bureau regarding 2011 local income taxes. Brothers said this notice is correct.

The county's Tax Collection Committee chose Southwest Regional Tax Collection for all the county's local income tax collection, but that change will take effect for wages earned in 2012. Those tax bills will be mailed in 2013.

The township has become more proactive in collecting taxes because of state cuts and increased expenses.

"If you work in Connellsville Township," Brothers explained during Thursday's supervisors' meeting, "you pay the LST tax. If you're paid biweekly, $2 per check is deducted. All Connellsville Township employees pay this tax and we pay the $8 per capita or head tax also. We are not exempt. If you're 18 or older and live in the township, you pay the head tax."

Brothers said officials have spent two years updating per capita tax rolls. "We utilize any data base we can find, including the voter registration list, which is public information. Of the $8 bill, the township gets $3 and the county gets $5," she said.

Supervisor Chairman Tom Cesario told those complaining of the per capita tax, "I don't know if you're upset that you got caught. Just pay your fair share. That's all we ask."

Cesario said the township needed to enact the LST services tax to offset rising expenses, declining population and to postpone any property tax increases.

State Rep. Tim Mahoney has all tax forms available at his offices, including his township office at Route 119 / Blake Avenue, located next to Subway.

In addition to increased expenses, the township will lose at least $3,300 it budgeted as its anticipated share from fines collected by state police at Uniontown, which patrols the township. "Ninety percent of our traffic citations in the township come from the Pennsylvania state police. Only $25 of the fine is for speeding. The state always used to split 50 percent with the municipality. In order to save the state police operation, the state will now take our $12.50. There was no notice given, and $3,300 makes a big difference to us."

Supervisor Robert Carson said the township continues to pursue grants and will work with Art Capella of the county's Office of Planning, Zoning and Community Development.

Grants the township qualifies for include one from PA American Water and one from the state to improve dirt and gravel roads to reduce dust, dirt and debris that enters streams. Carson said improvements could be made in the Casparis area. First applications are due in April. Carson did not say when the township might hear about either of the grants.

Capella told supervisors about a USDA 3.75 percent loan for equipment that supervisors might apply for to buy a new truck. He also told them about $5,000 in grants and a three-year no-interest loan up to $10,000 that could be applied towards insulating the garage so employees can work inside in the winter.

Carson stressed the work officials are doing is to save and find pennies to keep the township solvent.

This year, the three union employees' contract expires. Carson said he will bring up hiring an expert negotiation consultant to study the facts of declining population and follow the letter of the law in negotiations.

In other business:

• Supervisors hired Teresa Shanta to audit 2011 and 2012 books for $2,750 and $2,888 for 2013. The Second Class Township Code allows up to $3,000. The fees include newspaper advertising, coming to the office to examine records and submitting all required reports to supervisors and the state Department of Community and Economic Development by all deadlines. Last month, supervisors requested more information on Shanta's services.

• Supervisors presented a check for $44,781.23 to Dan Casini and Fred Robbins of the Bullskin Township/Connellsville Township Joint Sewage Authority. The township had collected 50 cents a month for customers in Hillcrest and McCoy Hollow to self insure these undermined areas and held the money for years because records from the time of collection could not be found.

• Supervisors voted to rent a crack-sealing machine for $1,500 for one week, the same price as last year. The township will order 10,080 pounds of sealing materials at $6,480. The township will save 10 cents a pound, or $1,008 by borrowing an off-loader from Connellsville and unpacking the material. "We had a fork for our plow truck but it disappeared," Carson said. In addition to using Connellsville's equipment, the township will give part of the materials to South Connellsville because the township borrowed some of the borough's materials last year. Originally, the three municipalities considered purchasing a sealer for $45,000 to $46,000 and splitting the cost, but financial uncertainty caused them to postpone the purchase indefinitely.

• James Conway, Mahoney's legislative assistant, reported that the trees on East Crawford and Blake Avenue have been removed. Stumps will be removed when weather improves. Mahoney will use his personal money to buy a privacy fence to protect property owner Ted Hay Sr. from traffic noise and dust.

Improving the sight line at the intersection "may have saved a few lives," Conway said.

Cesario thanked him for his work. "It wasn't until you stepped in that we reached an amicable solution."

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