Parkland Press

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Voters to choose five of six candidates for school board

Thursday, October 31, 2019 by Debra Palmieri dpalmieri@tnonline.com in Local News

There are six candidates seeking election to five open seats on the Parkland School Board in the Nov. 5 Municipal Election.

Those chosen will serve a four-year term.

Voters include those from North Whitehall, South Whitehall and Upper Macungie townships, along with parts of Allentown, including 17th Ward, 4th District and 18th Ward, 2nd District.

The Press asked the candidates the following question: “What is your position on property tax reform on the state level as it relates to school districts?”

Cross-filed Democrat-Republican

Marisa Ziegler: “Completely eliminating property taxes would be devastating for our schools. Replacing property taxes with increased sales tax would shift the burden to individual taxpayers and away from big businesses.

“Paying higher income tax would unfairly shift the burden to younger generations and working families.

“In addition, public schools would be underfunded and that funding wouldn’t be reliable and consistent.

“I believe the state government should increase the amount of money for public school funding as well as reform charter school funding.

“I support Gov. Tom Wolf’s Charter School Reform Plan to limit enrollment at underperforming charter schools and prevent charters from overcharging school districts and taxpayers.”

Carol Facchiano: “All Pennsylvania public school districts rely on the funds collected from local property taxes.

“The revenue that would be lost by eliminating property taxes would have a tremendous impact on the district’s budget.

“Unfunded state and federal mandates continue to increase the cost of education.

“I believe eliminating property taxes would negatively impact the district’s ability to provide essential programs to our students and our community.”

Lisa Roth: “Since Parkland relies heavily on property taxes to fund our budget, this topic is extremely relevant to our entire community.

“I fully support tax relief for those on fixed incomes but not total property tax elimination.

“The proposed ideas coming out of Harrisburg right now include increases in sales, income and retirement income taxes, and that would result in no guarantees or sustainable method of funding the exceptional educational program that is Parkland School District.

“We can be very proud of our property values and what continues to be the lowest millage rate in the Lehigh Valley.”

David M. Kennedy:

“Property tax relief is a slippery slope. Seniors, or for that matter, all homeowners should not struggle paying taxes with homeownership.

“Unfunded federal and state mandates drive up school budgets. The legislators must find a solution whereby Parkland, and all districts, are not penalized with the loss of revenue and where taxpayers have no additional obligation placed on them, but see a tax relief.

“Areas that need to be addressed by legislators are cyber and charter school payments and the rising cost of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System in the commonwealth.”

Democrat

Jay Rohatgi: “We should prioritize providing property tax relief for fixed income seniors who are getting taxed out of their existing homes. States are untrustworthy in allocating funds for services that local jurisdictions need.

“Also, any alternative mechanisms like vacancy or consumption taxes have not resulted in consistent collections causing yearly budgetary headaches.

“At least with local property taxes our money stays available for local services.

“As such, while I am willing to learn alternatives, as of now, local property taxes – flawed as they are, remain the only reliable source of income to fund our local essential services like schools and law enforcement.”

Republican

Patrick H. Foose: “First, it is important to understand that as a school board, the members do not have any power over changing the property tax. That is the responsibility of the state legislature.

“The school board can however determine how much percentage wise it would like to raise or lower year to year.

“Part of the problem, is that the state continues to mandate programs that it in turn requires the local governments to bear the brunt of the cost to implement.

“Additionally, roughly 80 percent of the budget goes toward salaries, pensions, and benefits.

“The 20 percent remaining is what the board has to work with from year-to-year to prioritize on expenditures.

“It is imperative the community stand up and lobby the state lawmakers to make quality reforms that would enhance education statewide, while providing relief to the taxpayers.”