I take issue with Ms. Autumn Vogel's recent letter. Councilmembers are elected to represent the community. They should study issues and be prepared to make tough decisions from Day 1.
Ms. Vogel notes innovative ideas garnered from her self-styled survey, but neglects to mention that most have already been brought to the forefront by current and past members of council. A government study commission and Home Rule were suggested a few months ago, and reassessment was discussed in 2019.
Experienced, mature leaders are not so naïve as to believe that the city can balance its budget based on voluntary contributions from tax-exempt organizations. It is the responsibility of the state legislature to provide local governments with the mechanism to collect fees for tangible municipal services provided to tax-exempt properties. Until that occurs, you can host focus groups and pizza parties, but cities across the commonwealth will continue to struggle to maintain solvency.
Some of the city’s critics are part of the problem themselves. How many students at Allegheny College register to vote in the city of Meadville? How many of those “residents” are paying the city per-capita tax? Or the local service tax? Where is their local wage tax going — Cleveland? Buffalo? Pittsburgh? In fact, have they changed addresses on their drivers’ licenses to reflect they are now city residents? If you want a solvent local government, then you need to pay your fair share of taxes to the appropriate taxing entity. Those thousands of dollars annually could fund a needed new fire engine.
Ms. Vogel claims that we have no choice but to raise taxes. Vernon Township and West Mead Township have a combined population roughly equal to the city’s. They managed to pass budgets without raising taxes.
Going back to the same well to extort tax dollars from retirees is a copout. Shuttered businesses, others operating at 25 percent capacity, laid-off employees — it is insanity to expect them to come up with additional tax dollars from empty cash registers and dwindling bank accounts. So please do the job you were elected to do and deliver a balanced budget.
NANCY MANGILO BITTNER