Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On A Brighter Note...Mayor Panto Predicts A Property Tax CUT for 2012

Easton's Mayor, Sal Panto

Posted by: Noël Jones

According to Ed Sieger's article in the Express-Times, Mayor Panto lays claim to restoring fiscal sanity to our city budget, pulling back from the brink of state control, and not raising property taxes for the last three years--he has even gone as far as to project a property tax cut for 2012.

If only the Easton Area School District would follow suit...


tach, the sarcastic cynic said...

Wow, that's Great! A tax cut! Boy, that doesn't happen very often!

That was the sarcastic side; here's the cynical:
I'll give 7 to 4 odds that 6 weeks after the November election something happens to change that cut into a hike.
Please convince me I'm wrong.

David Caines said...

I like sal and tend to believe him, but you may well be right. Still, I'm voting for him. Due to the nature of the American people , there cannot be such a thing as an honest politician... still, I think sal is as close as we are likely to get.

tunsie said...

Sal is a good man...he has been a friend of the family for many years..I have to be the first to stand up for him when somebody says something bad about him,because alot of times it is un founded...they just have a personal thing.....I am gonna vote for Sal...I dont see anyones chances of running against him to be nothing but a steep uphill battle...I will be at the poll for my friend.....I love you noel and I wish U work the poll with me.I usually work at the Jewish temple because thier election day coincides with thier BAKE SALE.....Tunsie

Anonymous said...

of Sal said he was going to try and lower taxes that means he will try. I have known him a long time and he doesn'tmake promises. He said he was going to try. He said weneed to attract working families to Easton. His speech is online at the city web site -- I suggest you read it.

I do know one thing -- if someone else was in there right now we would be seeing tax increases. He took on the unions and now they all pay toward helthcare. And the fire union was the worse -- ask any mayor. He went to arbitration and won.

I am not a panto praiser but I am very satisfied about the way our city is being managed.

David Caines said...

Myself as well, the city is safer, we do more to attract business, and if he is trying to attract working families I'm thrilled.
I'd love to see a train to NY, but otherwise I'm also happy with the way the city is being run.

small town resident said...

I know many people want to jump on this announcement and try to put it in a political context. Without really knowing the motives, I will reject that notion and suggest that Easton may be growing up.

When you look at structural models a municipality of 25,000 should be able to offer good public services at reasonable value. In fact, it should be a desirable place to live. Much more so than comparable cities in the Lehigh Valley or other mega cities in the region.

Somehow and somewhere Easton got off track and developed a government that was way out of size and proportion to its population. i.e. a layer of department heads, highly paid part time council, regional service provider. When those factors come in check, reducing taxes and other costs will follow. Public services will improve.

small town resident said...

As far as the trains, it's a nice dream, but really it's "chasing windmills" (for those fans of Sancho Panza).

I know this statement will be met with accusations of heresy, but let's be reasonable.

Pennsylvania cannot and will not build a line. That means we have to rely on New Jersey. On New Jersey's list of one million priorities, this is 999,999. An expenditure that does nothing for the state. The best we can do is push for a transportation hub ten miles from our border which would bring reliable service within our reach.

I know everyone wants to see rail in our community. The reality is that another state has to make that possible. I cannot see that investment ever. NJ will never make any money transporting people through their state to NYC. If Newark would develop in to a large business center, it is possible that NJ would consider moving people to work there. There would be tax benefits to the state. From that point you could catch a train to the city, but it would be a very long ride.

noel jones said...

tach--i get what you're saying, and normally if a politician made a projection like this before the primaries i would say "yeah, right" but i do think the mayor has demonstrated a sincere focus on trimming the budget and keeping taxes down at the same time and i do think he will make a serious attempt. we do have to remember, however, that holding the line for three years on taxes came after tripling the income tax.

i would like to know what is happening with taxes on companies, as i had heard before that our rate is higher than other cities in the area, and that it discourages companies from setting up shop in Easton...any thought out there on that?

(and if Mayor Panto is reading and could let us know, that would be great!)

Anonymous said...

Companies are charged 1 mill on wholesale and 1 1/2 mills on retail gross receipts. Our real estate tax rate is usually twice other communities. Our earned income tax which is payable on individual business profits is higher. I continue to see individuals who become successful in service businesses relocating to avoid the tax. Equally business that need to expand look to properties with lesser real estate taxes. The same taxes that affect individuals impact businesses

Anonymous said...

sorry, I should have said that the gross receipts tax is the same for palmer and easton. The other taxes are not.

noel jones said...

Anon--thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

Sal Panto says:
Noel, allow me to chime in as yuo asked. When I took office in 2008 our Administration inherited a finacial mess. We were running deficits and raising taxes and fees every year.

My initial goal was to level out the spending to meet the expected revenues. We have done that in spite of 3% increases in trash collection each year for the last two years; loss of the Scottsdale/Sollman lawsuit which predated our Adninistration(at a cost starting this year of $600,000 a year for 10 years; and the stat-mandated increase in our contribution to pension plan deficits($600,000 per year from $900,000 to $1.5 million per year). These alone total more than $1.5 million of new expenses each year that can not be avoided. It does not account for increases in wages, healthcare, utilities, etc.

We have now leveled our spending to meet our expected revenues. But we cannot just be happy there and become lethargic about the fact that we still have the highest tax rate, sewer fees and trash fees in the area.

Yes in 2008 we did raise the earned income tax. Why? To cover deficits we inherited as well as placing the burden of the increas eon people who at least had a job - and not the seniors on fixed income or the unemployed.

The average family in Easton was making approximately $38,000 in 2008. Their total difference was an additional $285 per year or $6 per week.

With our initial goal of reducing expenses to meet expected revenue I stated in the State of the City that now our goal is to actually lower the cost of living in our city.

It is a goal. But if we don't have that as a goal we may become lethargic and never work toward that. It i a goal and our Administration will work hard to reach that goal --- our residents can't afford increases -- especially in light of the ever increasing school tax.

I present the 2012 budget PRIOR to the election in November. My goal is to achieve it. If not in 2012 then in 2013. It took us two years to get to level spending, it may take the long to get to a reduction. But without the goal, we may never get there at all.

noel jones said...

Thanks for posting, Mayor!

noel jones said...

If only the school district would take your lead...

david said...

How does one get the school district under the mayors charge, and as our chief executive...why aren't they?
There is a redundancy to this issue that I don't understand. Why are the EASD above and beyond all other agencies?
Also, thanks Mr. Mayor...way to take the pulse...

anonimus said...

A big difference here is that the mayor works at this full time and he lives the job. The school board gets paid nothing and we get what we pay for. These bozos don't take the job seriously. Awright, some do but only for short periods of time. It's a tough job, but if you got elected you gotta do it!
Only declared candidate (I can't vote for) I like is Ronnie DelBacco, I think he will watch the budget ins and outs closely.
We'll see.

Anonymous said...

The school district covers several municipalities including Easton. Easton's mayor has no control over Palmer and Forks which together are larger than Easton. Those residents vote for their own municipal leadership. Harrisburg is the only city where the mayor was given control of the school district. Now, that city is bankrupt; I doubt that there will be others. School districts are considered agents of the state and are contolled by department of ed and state board of ed.

Anonymous said...

I like the way the mayor talks and follows up with action. I actually believe that he will find a way to lower the cost of living in the city, if not next year the year after. He has shown very conservative spending methods yet the city is moing forward. Heck just the street sweeping program is costing a lot of extra money but taxes didn't go up. It's all about how we distribute our resources. His clean and safe worked and will continue to work.

It will be interesting how he handles the public union but so far they tell me he has a good relationship with AFSCME and FOP. Firefighter unions across the state are a problem but I read in the paper even they are getting along better with the administration.

I am thankful that he is running for re-election even though I didn't vore in the last election I will be there early this time.