Mount Carmel council to vote on referendum ordinance tonight
MOUNT CARMEL - Borough council members will vote tonight on an ordinance that would require any tax or debt increase to be placed on the voters' ballots as a referendum.
President Tony Matulewicz, who proposed the move, said residents should have more control over their tax dollars.
"It's the people's money. Why not put it on the ballot?" he said.
Each proposal on the ballot would be accompanied by the council members' explanation for such the increase followed by a question asking if the voters support an increase in the number of mills for taxes proposed or the amount of dollar for debt proposed.
"If we don't do a good enough job explaining and the voter rejects our reason, then we have to reduce our services," Matulewicz said. "I think the worst case scenario is we'd go a year and people would see why we need it."
However, several council members, including Joseph Lapotsky, oppose the ordinance.
"I think there may be a time of need or emergency when we have no other recourse but to raises taxes," Lapotsky said.
People take a negative approach to taxes regardless of the justification, he said.
"Elected officials are elected because the public trusts our judgements," he said.
Lapotsky said he would rather see property taxes eliminated completely and replaced with sales taxes on everything with no exceptions.
There are currently 32 1/4 mills in total for borough taxpayers, which consists of 27 mills reserved for the general fund, 2 1/2 mills for street improvements, 2 1/2 mills reserved for street lights and 1/4-mill for the library.
At 27 mills, the borough is only three mills below the maximum millage amount allowed by state law.
"We're so close to the limit. It's too easy to put of decisions for future councils," Matulewicz said.
Borough council meets at 7 p.m. today at borough hall at Fourth and Vine streets.