John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Taxes Category

If You Believe Gerry Couch, I Have a Bridge to Sell You!

Former Newtown Township Supervisor Gerry Couch engaged in a despicable misrepresentation of the facts in order to undermine the trust in and respect for the new Board of Supervisors!

In a letter to the editor published in the February 5, 2018, issue of the Bucks Courier Times (BCCT), former Newtown Township Supervisor Gerry Couch accused Democrats on the current Board of Supervisors – yours truly included – of raising taxes by $1 million and claimed that “taxes are going up $168 for [the] average household” (see letter shown below).

First of all, Newtown is NOT “poised for a $1 million dollar tax increase” as Mr. Couch claims. Oh, yes, I forgot. According to the BCCT editors, the mistake was theirs. “Basically, all of our articles get looked over by an out-of-office copy desk,” a source inside the paper told me, “and in this case, someone unfamiliar with municipal government mistook "1-mill" for ‘$1 million’ and changed Mr. Couch's original letter before it went online.”

Really?! I find that hard to believe. Whatever!

The letter goes on to mention that taxes are “going up $168” for the average household. Only the owner of a house valued at $1.68 Million will see Newtown taxes “go up” $168 in 2018. As for the average Joe like me, whose house is valued at $340,000, the tax will “go up” $34! I could save two to six times that by switching to a different trash pickup company!

This is a particularly telling “mistake” because Mr. Couch is a financial planner and was the Assistant Treasurer while on the Board of Supervisors. So you would think he knows how to transform a 1-mill tax increase into a dollar amount for the average household.

The editors of BCCT should be ashamed of themselves to allow such an obviously fake number to be published. This "fake fact" should have been known to be incorrect based on a previously published article that included the correct data. This sloppy journalism has had consequences. It undermines the trust in and support of our local government, which has already received many phone calls from residents.

But the main culprite here is Mr. Couch, who I believe has engaged in a despicable misrepresentation of the facts. Maybe, however, Mr. Couch is not a purveyor of “fake facts” but simply does not know how to do grade school math. I don’t know which is worse.

The Courier Times Prints Two Corrections

In what must be a first, the Courier Times printed two corrections regarding this letter on two consecutive days! Talk about closing the barn door after the cows have left!


Posted on 07 Feb 2018, 07:35 - Category: Taxes

Newtown's "Volatile" Sources of Revenue

Ferguson Talks About Taxes at the January 10, 2018 BOS Meeting

For the benefit of "newbie" Township Supervisors John Mack and Linda Bobrin, Town Manager Kurt Ferguson discussed the "volatile" nature of the taxes the town depends upon to meet its expenses.

To sum up: Ferguson suggested that Newtown is unique in that it does NOT have a property tax (see below) and the lion share of it’s revenue sources depend upon “volatile taxes.” These taxes include resident and non-resident Earned Income Taxes (EIT), which account for about 54% of the yearly revenue. These are “volatile” because people may lose jobs and other municipalities may enact their own EIT. That means that Newtown can lose the taxes collected from residents of those municipalities who work in Newtown. This would have a "devastating effect" on the Town’s financial stability and credit rating.

The Truth About “Real Estate” Taxes

What’s often quoted as “Real Estate” tax millage of 3.50 is actually composed of a 0.875 Fire Tax millage plus a 2.625 Debt Service millage. This income does NOT go into the General Fund to cover ordinary/general ongoing expenses. The former goes into the Fire Protection Fund, which pays for the Fire Chief’s salary, health insurance, etc., and contribution to the Newtown Fire Association. The latter goes toward paying off loans for road improvements, etc. Other towns have a property tax that pays for the general expenses of running and maintaining a town.

Resident and non-resident EIT accounts for 54% of Newtown's annual revenue.


Posted on 11 Jan 2018, 01:38 - Category: Taxes

No New Tax Hike Does Not Indicate a Stable Local Economy

According to an analysis prublished in the Bucks County Courier Times this morning, more than half of Bucks towns will not raise taxes in 2018. However, that does not mean that these towns will not face a financial crisis down the road (see clip below). File this under "Don't ever believe a politician who says 'Read my lips. No new taxes!' or the equivalent."

Newtown Township may soon be added to the list. At a contentious public meeting on December 13, 2017, the Board of Supervisors debated whether to cut spending for essential services (again) or to approve the 2018 budget with new taxes to pay for Emergency Medical Services and Fire Hydrant Maintenance. In the end, they were unable to reach a consensus. Read "Newtown's Looming 2018 Budget Crisis." 

According to the BCCT, perhaps a quarter of Bucks County towns have not seen a tax increase since 2013 (see the following table).

Note that Newtown Twp raised taxes by 1 mill in 2017 for debt service, which allowed the Township to borrow $1 million for roadway improvement every three years. If another tax increase is necessary down the road, at least that road is likely to be in good condition!

Posted on 18 Dec 2017, 01:16 - Category: Taxes

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