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The DC opinion is far off.  the only reason the current board of county commissioners could reduce the millage rate by a smidgen for the second year in a row is because of a recent planned reevaluation of local property tax.  Don't ever forget, the housing market usually increases the value of a property, and the county goes to the greater valuation of the property.  You have to go in to a hearing and prove otherwise...
Daily Courier editorial Saturday, December 30, 2006

Laurel: To Fayette County commissioners. The board dropped about a quarter of a mill from property taxes for the second consecutive year. Commissioners unanimously passed a balanced 2007 spending plan by carrying over an estimated $628,500 in revenue from 2006. These officials should be commended for working to eliminate the $3 million in debt that had accumulated through the end of 2004. They are now delivering on years-old promises.

Running for political office... Not one of them has to date offered a resolution to rescind Keystone Opportunity Zones, not one.  That is within the power of a county board of commissioners to initiate the process of rescinding the resolution adopted back in 1999.

Fayette County commissioner Hardy running for re-election

By Chris Foreman
Friday, March 2, 2007

Stopping short of formal endorsements, Fayette County Commissioner Joe Hardy announced Thursday he's running for re-election -- and he hopes his colleagues retain their seats.

Hardy, a Republican who turned 84 in January, didn't start his political career until four years ago, when he surprised some in the GOP by entering the primary.

But the 84 Lumber Co. founder and philanthropist, whose private donations contributed to a face-lift for downtown Uniontown, said he thinks he can make a difference in the public sector...


Throughout his first term, Hardy has been the quietest of the three commissioners at public meetings, usually leaving Commissioner Chairwoman Angela Zimmerlink and Commissioner Vince Vicites to debate issues or answer residents' questions.

However, on many controversial votes, Hardy has ended up on the same side as Vicites, a Democrat completing his third term.

Zimmerlink frequently has criticized the unlikely duo for making decisions without her input.

With their election in 2003, Hardy and Zimmerlink gave the GOP its first majority in the commissioners' office since January 1936...

Hardy and Zimmerlink are the only two Republicans who have announced primary campaigns.

Other Democrats include Vince Zapatosky and former Commissioner Sean Cavanagh.

Fayette County democrat challengers line up
By Chris Foreman
Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Five Fayette County Democrats are running for their party's two nominations in the race for the three county commissioner seats.

Meanwhile, three of the county's Democratic row officers will have opponents for the May 15 primary election.

With the passing of Tuesday's deadline to file nominating petitions, the county's Democrats find themselves with a variety of choices in mounting a campaign to regain the majority on the board of commissioners.

Three-term incumbent Vince Vicites faces high-profile competition from Sean Cavanagh, a Democratic state committeeman who served as a commissioner from 1996 to 2004, and Vincent Zapotosky, a former congressional staffer who works at Douglas Education Center in Monessen.

Other commissioner candidates include John "Sonny" Mikita III, who changed back to being a Democrat after losing the 51st Legislative District race to Tim Mahoney, and John J. "Toots" Croftcheck, a retiree who has been on the losing end of campaigns for controller, recorder of deeds, prothonotary and jury commissioner.

On the Republican side, incumbents Angela Zimmerlink and Joe Hardy are the only candidates.

With their election in 2003, Hardy and Zimmerlink gave the GOP its first majority in the commissioners' office in almost seven decades...

Another closely watched race will be for the six-year term for Uniontown district judge.

The incumbent, Mark L. Blair, a former Uniontown police officer, will be challenged by five candidates. Blair won election in 2001 to succeed his father, Lawrence.

Two of the candidates, Ronald K. Machesky and Michael M. Metros, lost to Blair six years ago. Machesky is a former Uniontown police chief, while Metros serves the force as a lieutenant.

The remaining candidates include Gary N. Altman, a Uniontown attorney; Brian Miller, a deputy warden at the Fayette County Prison; and Daniel A. Campbell, a Uniontown constable.

Hardy to seek second term as commissioner
Updated 03/02/2007 12:29:38 AM EST
Republican Fayette County Commissioner Joseph A. Hardy III officially announced his intention Thursday to seek a second term in office, saying he wants to finish some of the things the current board of commissioners has started.

"Over the past three years we as the Fayette County commissioners have made great progress for the county," Hardy said. "Certainly we don't always agree and at time these disagreements can be quite passionate, but I believe myself, (Republican) Commissioner Angela M. Zimmerlink and (Democratic) Commissioner Vincent A. Vicites have always had the best interest of the county and its residents at heart, and I am certain we can continue to make progress as a team if we are all re-elected."
...During a press conference at his campaign headquarters at 9 East Peter St., Hardy said he thinks Fayette County has a fantastic future, especially when the Mon/Fayette Expressway is completed. Hardy said he will run a positive campaign geared toward unifying residents along with the political and community leaders of Fayette County for the common goal of continued progress and growth. "I think we have to get along," Hardy said.

Among his priorities, Hardy mentioned the need to extend the runway at the Connellsville Airport, saying at the Ligonier Airport where he keeps his jets, the runway has been extended to between 10,000 and 11,000 feet. He said getting a runway extension, preferably to 5,000 feet at Connellsville Airport, would enable charter jets to land there. The millionaire founder of 84 Lumber Co. said unlike at his business, which he runs like a dictatorship, he has had to be reconditioned as a public official, adding that patience is not one of his virtues.
...When Hardy ran four years ago, his platform was "Jobs, jobs jobs." He said he wants to continue the work he has done to bring more jobs to the county. "I want to have the young stay here," he said.

Hardy mentioned the type of jobs that keep young people are defense contractor work that is already established and talked about a medical "cell" business that may come about.

In a prepared announcement, Hardy said some of the more important items the commissioners have addressed over the past three years included approval of a new zoning ordinance, establishment of a Uniform Construction Code for the county, commencement of a courthouse renovation program, changing voting machines and procedures, working diligently to expand the Route 40 Industrial Park and lowering property taxes the past two years.

The announcement also mentions the progress that has been made in the revitalization of downtown Uniontown from an aesthetic and business growth perspective, adding that the approach of private, municipal, commonwealth and federal funds has led to true revival of the city, which serves as a model for other communities...

Zimmerlink will seek re-election in Fayette
By The Tribune-Review
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fayette County Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink announced she will seek re-election in the May 15 primary.

Zimmerlink, commission chairwoman, is the first Republican to enter the race. She took office in 2004...

Three Uniontown-area Democrats have announced their intentions to seek the party's nomination. They are Commissioner Vincent Vicites, former commissioner Sean Cavanagh and former candidate Vincent Zapotosky.

Judge to decide on whether board violated Sunshine Act
Updated 03/02/2007 12:05:15 AM EST
A Fayette County judge listened to a morning of testimony and legal arguments and will render a decision as to whether the Uniontown Area School Board violated the Sunshine Act in making a board appointment and approving a now-scuttled bond issue during a December meeting.

At issue is whether calling a board member in the middle of a meeting to vote on those two issues, without her having listened to the entire meeting was a violation of the act.

Increase taxes referendum.  How is it constitutional to increase the taxation, or even impose the taxation on some taxpayers, meanwhile, let other taxpayers off the hook with Keystone Opportunity Zones?
Tax hearing attracts few attendees
Updated 03/01/2007 12:04:56 AM EST
Only three residents attended a public hearing held Wednesday by the Uniontown Area School District in regards to an Act 1 referendum question people will vote on in May.

Business manager Floyd Geho and school board member William Rittenhouse Jr. were also present for the hearing. District Superintendent Dr. Charles Machesky was not in attendance, nor were any other board members.
Geho, who led the hearing, presented residents with the referendum question members of the public will vote on in May if the question is approved by the school board during a special meeting March 12.

The question is as follows: "Do you favor imposing an additional 0.4 percent earned income tax? The revenue generated from the increased tax rate will be used to reduce taxes on qualified residential properties in the Uniontown Area School District by $185.32. The current earned income tax rate is 0.5 percent."

Geho said the school district is asking to raise the earned income tax by 0.4 percent, bringing the total to 0.9 percent.

At 0.9 percent, households with an annual income of $35,000 will pay $315 annually in earned income taxes, $140 more than the current rate of 0.5 percent.

Households generating $75,000 in annual income will pay $675 in earned income taxes, $300 more than the current rate of 0.5 percent.

Geho said the school district had hoped to only raise the earned income tax by 0.1 percent, but said they were forced to raise it to 0.4 percent to make up for gaming revenue money. Revenue from gaming was expected to make up 0.3 percent, he said, noting that the district doesn't expect to receive any gaming money until 2008, at the earliest.

The Uniontown Area School Board Local Tax Study Commission favored a zero-percent increase, or no change, in the earned income tax, but Geho said that's not feasible.

School boards, according to law, have the right to either accept of reject their respective commission's finding. Board members must approve a referendum question to be placed on the May 15 ballot.

School districts were required by state law to form at least a five-member commission. The commission had the option to increase the earned income tax, create a personal income tax or recommend no change to the district's existing tax structure under the Pennsylvania Taxpayer Relief Act, commonly known as Act 1.

Geho referred to Act 1, which is supposed to bring about taxpayer relief by lessening property taxes, as a tax shift, not a tax reduction.

Residents who earn more than $46,500 in earned income will actually be paying more in earned income taxes than they will benefit from through tax relief, he said.

Geho said the school board must approve the referendum question by March 13. If the public votes down the referendum in May, Geho said he's not sure what will happen to make up for the lost money no longer collected in real estate taxes.

Direct ffrom the Fayette County Tax Assessment office director:
121.12 acres are not tax exempt, the assessment site contained an error in land classification.
In an agreement with county commissioners, Woodlands Zoo & More are assuming payment of the property taxes on the 6.1 acre parcel which remains owned by the county of Fayette.
The zoo cages/structures are not assessed as they are considered like a backyard cage for your pet dog.
Update July 5, 2006
Note the assessment site contents have been updated for the properties.

As of July 3, 2006

  1 of 1  
Mailing Address 3400 NATIONAL PIKE
City,State,Zip Code FARMINGTON PA 15437

Property Location US40-MT WASHINGTON
Parcel ID 42-16-0153
Municipality WHARTON TWP
Classification EXEMPT
Valuation Neighborhood 42C05000
Land Area (acres) 121.12
Topography LEVEL
Utilities NONE
Street/Road PAVED


For accurate zoning information please call the Office of Planning & Economic Development as they are in the process of updating all of the zoning records for the county. Call 724-430-1210 for details.

Data Copyright Fayette County Public Access [Disclaimer]  Last Updated: 6/16/2006

Site Design Copyright 1999-2004 Akanda Group LLC. All rights reserved.





  1 of 1  
Mailing Address 355 GIBON GLADE RD
City,State,Zip Code FARMINGTON PA 15437

Property Location 3360 NATIONAL PKE
Parcel ID 42-16-0154
Municipality WHARTON TWP
Classification COMMERCIAL
Valuation Neighborhood 42C06000
Land Area (acres) 6.1
Street/Road PRIVATE


For accurate zoning information please call the Office of Planning & Economic Development as they are in the process of updating all of the zoning records for the county. Call 724-430-1210 for details.

Woodland Zoo & More, Inc. tax exemption for recreational purposes?

  1 of 1  
Mailing Address 3400 NATIONAL PIKE
City,State,Zip Code FARMINGTON PA 15437

Property Location US40-MT WASHINGTON
Parcel ID 42-16-0153
Municipality WHARTON TWP
Classification EXEMPT
Valuation Neighborhood 42C05000
Land Area (acres) 121.12
Topography LEVEL
Utilities NONE
Street/Road PAVED


Date of Valuation 01/01/2006
Current Land 190,000
Current Building
Current Total 190,000
Exemption/Exclusion Type

no mention of some 35-acres consisting of goat petting area, and exotic animal cages, and/or improvements of the property

Pennsylvania Personal Property Tax
The state of Pennsylvania does not levy or collect taxes on real estate or personal property. Instead, those taxes are reserved for the local governments - counties, municipalities and school districts. In most areas of Pennsylvania all three groups will levy real estate or property taxes - with rates differing depending upon the county, school district and municipality in which you live.
What Property is Taxed?:

Property taxes in Pennsylvania apply only to real estate - land and buildings - and are not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes in Pennsylvania, including places of worship, places of burial, charitable and educational institutions and government property.

Land value tax

Pennsylvania law allows local governments and school districts to use a wide variety of taxes to fund their services. The multitude of taxes may appear confusing initially, but each is straightforward. This web page describes the major local taxes.

Taking a Closer Look at Government: Pennsylvania's Local Taxation "System"

Action causes questions
Updated 02/24/2007 12:04:58 AM EST
CONNELLSVILLE - Action taken by the Fayette County Commissioners to approve a request from the Connellsville Redevelopment Authority that would give it the first opportunity to purchase vacated properties in the city limits has come as a surprise to the authority executive director and board chairman.

"The redevelopment authority did not make any such request of the county commissioners," Ralph Wombacker, authority executive director, said Friday. "The board of directors have not officially discussed this matter or directed me to contact the county commissioners."...
...According to correspondence obtained from the commissioners' office, City Clerk Antoinette Tesauro, on behalf of Mayor Judy Reed and city council, sent a letter Jan. 31 to the county that stated its interest in the three properties.

"The redevelopment authority director, Ralph Wombacker, will obtain the properties by attending the Free and Clear Tax Sale, identifying its intent and prepared to pay the upset price," states the letter. "We are requesting your authorization in writing for the property purchase. "After receiving written authorization, the city will notify Donna Yauger, Tax Claim Bureau director."

The letter was accompanied by a copy of a Dec. 14 resolution that authorized the notification of the Fayette County Commissioners and Tax Claim Bureau that the city redevelopment authority would make a claim on the properties, along with photographs and descriptions of the sites.

After being advised by John S. Cupp Jr., assistant county solicitor, on Feb. 15 that the city was required to make its request known to Judith Bodkin, chief county clerk, a subsequent notification letter was sent by Tesauro on Feb. 16.

In the letter, the mayor and council requested the "privilege of right of first refusal for bidding of tax claims" and "permanent right to bid on all free and clear sales at the upset price."

At council's Feb. 13 meeting, by a 3-to-2-vote margin, council authorized Wombacker and the authority "to review for possible development" the three properties and "to purchase such properties" at the tax sale.

Commissioners table allowing sale of zoo

Woodland Zoo Fayette commissioners should delay vote
Herald-Standard, Editorial Page Editor, Paul Sunyak
If the owners of Woodland Zoo and amphitheater have no imminent buyer in mind, why are they trying to trigger the Fayette County commissioners to basically give up their right of first refusal to purchase the property? If, as co-owner Jill Herring says, "I hope we're here for the next 100 years," what is the rush?

The former Great Meadows Amphitheater site has a long and mostly unsuccessful history. It bombed for decades as viable entertainment venue despite numerous attempts at resuscitation
For a dormant site, it was an ownership nightmare, split between the county and state with suffocating deed restrictions.

A lot of the heavy lifting on straightening out this mess took place in a prior county administration that included former Commissioner Ronald M. Nehls, who admirably served as point man on getting something done.

The two-tract property was officially conveyed to Jill and Darwin Herring in late 2004 and early 2005, under the current commission administration. Now, approximately a year-and-half later, the Herrings want the county to either repurchase the site or refuse to do so. If the commissioners say no, the door opens for the Herrings to sell the property outright.

Unless the Herrings have a prospective buyer lined up, or are intent on finding one, we don't understand why they want to put this decision on the commissioners' table at this time.

If the Herrings want out, or have a buyer in mind, they should come straight out and state that fact. Because as it looks now, reading between the lines, that's how the situation seems to shape up.