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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Unnoticed costs of government



Rural townships and boroughs seem to operate more cheaply because they can transfer the taxes paid by business, including farms—with low demands for services—to their developed areas; i.e., housing developments in the form of road maintenance, sewer, water, etc.
The cost of Community Services I commissioned in 2000 for Shrewsbury and Hopewell townships, as well as many similar studies since done elsewhere, prove the point.
For instance, in one southern York County township, commercial and industrial users received back in services only $.29 cents of every tax dollar they paid. Farm and forest owners regained $.37 cents of every dollar they paid. Residential owners, on the other name, received $1.15 in services for every tax dollar paid by the homeowners. Your local taxes are a pretty good deal—if you happen to be living in a housing development.
The other side of volunteering: Volunteer planning commissioners, zoning hearing board members and special boards, commissions and authorities perform other important functions of local governance. Pennsylvania does not require any of these men and women to be trained or certified. They don’t need to know anything about municipal planning, zoning, wastewater treatment, or any other of a host of specialized action of local government. All too often, they need only know or be related to someone in a position to appoint them. Fortunately for all of us, most of these people want to do their best.
But this lack of experience, and in most cases, inability or disinterest in attending classes and conferences to learn more, results in more hidden costs of government.
Next: Hidden costs 

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