The sponsor of a bill allowing counties in Pennsylvania to impose a one-percent sales tax says he’s hoping for a House vote on the measure this fall.
Democratic Representative Mike Sturla, of Lancaster County, says the expected passage of a bill increasing Philadelphia’s sales tax gives him high hopes for his legislation.
Sturla explains the Philadelphia bill, if approved, would likely block a push for a statewide sales tax increase, which he thinks would have derailed his county proposal.
"In order to do that you’d have to take Philly from what is now 7, and they would be going to 8 for the one cent that they need. You would be going to 9 and I don’t think that’s tenable in the Philadelphia region."
Sturla initially wanted to give counties and municipalities the option of imposing a one-percent sales tax in order to reduce their reliance on property taxes. But an amendment to the measure divides up the tax revenues, sending half to school districts, a quarter to counties and a quarter to municipalities.
The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, an early supporter of the measure, is working to restore the bill to its original form, arguing local governments need property tax relief more than school districts.
Doug Hill, the executive director of the Pennsylvania County Commissioners Association, argues school districts have “already had their bite of the apple.”
"They’ve had a couple authorizations for an earned income tax. And of course now they’re getting the gaming money, and that’s going to start going up now that the other couple casinos have opened. And we believe it’s really time to provide some relief for county and municipal property taxes."
The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on a similar proposal this week.
Hill says counties and municipalities can’t keep raising property taxes, and need the flexibility offered by the legislation.