Murrysville council approves first tax hike since 2007 on labor income and property transfer taxes
Murrysville council voted unanimously on Wednesday to reduce its share of income tax from 0.5% to 0.7%, and its share of property transfer tax from 0.5% to 1 %. This is the first municipal tax increase since 2007.
CFO Diane Heming said she expects the move to bring in about $ 1.6 million in additional revenue and be a much more stable source of income than the traditional method of raising property taxes.
“Property tax ceased to be our main source of revenue in 2012,” Heming said.
Highlighting his opposition to council tax increases, resident David Nader asked how much time council members spend trying to cut costs.
“Fourteen years, I would say,” said Councilor Loren Kase, referring to the last time the council raised taxes of any kind. “At least 14 years old.”
Heming and Murrysville’s chief administrator, Jim Morrison, have been briefing the board for the past year or so on the need to identify new sources of revenue in order to provide its current level of service.
Council Chairman Dayne Dice said no one in Council was happy to raise taxes for the first time in 14 years, “but I believe we were forced into a binary choice: raise taxes or lower Services.
“The Pennsylvania legislature has created a tax system where local owners bear the brunt of every tax increase – and here we have the opportunity to divert some of that away from those owners.”
Nader believed that a traditional property tax was the best and fairest way to increase income. He accused the council of discriminating against employees.
“If our municipality has a shortfall in its budget, then the municipality should make up for it,” Nader said. “Not a subset of the municipality. It’s discrimination, and I can’t believe nobody on council sees it that way.
Dice and other board members have consistently pointed out the large population of senior and fixed income residents of Murrysville.
“I don’t think it’s discriminatory,” City Councilor Jamie Lee Korns said. “I grew up in Murrysville and benefited from the people who helped build this community. I have no problem knowing that I am not going to help get our seniors out of their homes.
Councilor Mac McKenna said council is stepping up as it looks to the future of Murrysville.
“It’s not a knee-jerk reaction to things that are happening now,” he said. “It’s: how do we get Murrysville on the path to having the right tax base to use and maintain the services we have?” We’ve had some opposition, which you can count on one hand, but I think it’s totally fair to the community.
The increases in labor income and property transfer rights will begin on January 1.
Chief administrator Jim Morrison said the increase in earned income in particular “is a fundamental change for the municipality”.
“The increases in income tax earned each year offset the increases we see in overhead,” Morrison said. “It’s a way to increase revenues and keep pace with costs that are beyond the control of the municipality. “