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Buffalo Twp. plans public hearing about new EMS tax

| Thursday, Feb. 10, 2005

BUFFALO TOWNSHIP -- The township could join the growing list of local municipalities to adopt the Emergency and Municipal Services Tax.

Supervisors on Wednesday scheduled a public hearing to gather input on levying the new tax, which would replace the $10 Occupational Privilege Tax.

The new tax was established late last year as part of the Pittsburgh financial aid package. All communities statewide can levy the EMS Tax, which is capped at $52 with $5 continuing to go to local school districts.

To date, at least 15 local governments have adopted the new tax and a few others are expected to adopt it this month.

Buffalo's supervisors said they don't know what amount they would set the tax at, what the exemption would be or how much money they anticipate raising. They said discussions were preliminary and they aren't certain they'll enact the tax, but they wanted to schedule the required hearing before the end of the first fiscal quarter.

According to a copy of the 2005 budget, supervisors predicted the township's $5 share of the Occupational Privilege Tax will generate about $12,000 this year. If there are 2,400 employees paying the tax, the township could raise almost $113,000 if supervisors levied the EMS Tax at the full amount allowed.

State law allows communities to set a tax exemption of up to $12,000; anyone earning less than that amount would be eligible for a refund at the end of the year. However, each community decides whether to allow an exemption and several have set the bar as low as $1,000.

If the EMS tax is approved, the township most likely will be able to collect the money this year. If employers already collected the $10 Occupational Privilege Tax, they will need to collect the difference between the two.

The township can't collect the $10 tax and the entire $52 tax, but they could collect an additional $42.

Supervisor Herb Henry said the additional revenue would help the township maintain equipment for the police and fire departments and road crews.

"The cost of everything is going up, and the money that's coming in isn't going up with it," he said.

Goldscheitter Road resident Paul Schmidt said supervisors should know exactly what they want to use the tax money for and how much they need first, then set the tax accordingly.

Additional Information:

Coming up

Who: Buffalo Township supervisors.

What: Public hearing to discuss levying Emergency and Municipal Services Tax.

When: 6:30 p.m. March 23. Regular monthly meeting will follow.

Where: Township building, 109 Bear Creek Road.

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