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Harmar lowers tax rate by 7 percent

Brian C. Rittmeyer

Harmar has too much money in its government coffers and is returning some of it to taxpayers, a majority of the township supervisors have decided.

Supervisors have approved lowering the township's tax rate by a quarter-mill, from 3.7 mills to 3.45 mills, which is a reduction of about 7 percent.

The tax rate was lowered with no change in the township's spending plan for 2016, Supervisor Bob Exler said.

“We're not changing the budget,” Exler said. “All we're doing is taking from the reserve.

“We're giving back to the people some of the money that was being squirreled away there.”

Supervisor Bob Seibert Jr., one of two supervisors elected in November, said Harmar has a “fairly large” surplus, totaling around $700,000 at the end of 2015.

In addition, he said the township had so much money that supervisors late last year moved $500,000 into a capital improvement fund.

Seibert called the reduction “a step in the right direction to give a bit of a tax break to the residents of Harmar Township.

“I personally believe that means we've been overtaxing the public,” Seibert said. “Any chance that you can lower taxes for the public, for the taxpayer, you should do it. “

Seibert said the quarter-mill reduction will cost Harmar about $96,000 in revenue.

Seibert said growth in other revenue sources, such as earned income tax, could offset part of that loss and allow the township to further lower taxes next year.

“We want to proceed cautiously,” he said.

Lone ‘no' vote: ‘political stunt'

Supervisor Linda Slomer cast the only vote among the five supervisors against the tax cut. She called the action a “political stunt,” amounting to an insignificant savings for most residents, although benefitting commercial property owners.

“I asked that the vote be tabled until we could discuss it more in-depth. They said no, they wanted to take a vote immediately,” Slomer said.

Slomer said she didn't believe the township was holding onto too much money.

“We have a lot of capital improvement projects and we need to be saving for future infrastructure projects,” she said. “I didn't think it was a good decision.”

Exler said Harmar's surplus shouldn't be any higher than $400,000.

“I'm happy. We're trying to do the right thing,” he said. “I made a promise I'd lower taxes. We lowered it more than I thought we could.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach him at 724-226-4701 or [email protected].


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