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Pa. Townships Fight Unfunded Mandates

Township supervisors across Pennsylvania are fighting unfunded mandates from Harrisburg and Washington.

Pennsylvania’s township officials are taking aim at unfunded mandates, which they say waste millions in tax dollars every year.

Close to 4,000 local leaders attended the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors’ 90th Annual Educational Conference last week in Hershey, where they launched a campaign to eliminate the mandates that Harrisburg and Washington pass on to local governments without accompanying dollars.

Township officials wore green stickers, which featured a rifle’s crosshairs over the words “Unfunded Mandates” throughout the conference.

In particular, PSATS members have set their sights on the state’s outdated legal advertising requirements — studies say reforming these would save municipalities $23 million a year — and the prevailing wage, which can add up to 30 percent to public project costs.

Organizers say the campaign is having an impact. State lawmakers:

  • Have eased up on municipal bidding requirements
  • Delivered a natural gas impact fee that township officials say will benefit communities statewide
  • Are considering significant prevailing wage reforms

Just last week, the Federal Highway Administration lifted a series of burdensome regulations that would have required municipalities to upgrade tens of thousands of street signs over the next few years — an unfunded mandate that would have cost townships and other local governments nationwide millions of dollars.

“All we want is some fairness, common sense, and balance restored to the system,” PSATS President David Sanko said. “Every level of government — local, state and federal — is feeling the financial squeeze. These days, the money simply doesn’t stretch as far as it once did. The economy isn’t helping, but neither is the rising cost of fuel and materials and decisions being made in Harrisburg and Washington.

The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors represents Pennsylvania’s 1,455 townships of the second class and for the past 91 years.Townships of the second class represent more residents — 5.5 million Pennsylvanians — than any other type of political subdivision in the commonwealth and cover 95 percent of the commonwealth’s land mass.

Stephanie Brown May 17, 2012 at 01:52 PM
There is no bigger buch of babies who cry about everything than township officials. They never want to pay for anything. They expect other taxpayers to pay for them to have a nice community.They want to not have to pay for things like infrastructure which is an investment in a community and the what tax money should pay for, things that are the common good. But township officals want to use tax money for things like parks and open space. Look at how Lower Saucon Township officials did not want the casino in Bethlehem, but how much money they take from the casino from the so called impact fees. But what is sad is how when the money was awarded to the township, it ended up going towards the rail trail. The rail trail is nice, but is something that if the community can't afford to pay for it, build and matain it, then is not a prority. Many years ago, when I was a kid, the township spent money on new street signs. that were highly decorative and asthetically pleasing, But were hard to see and did not wear well. What a huge waste of money that was. Having street signs they are easy to read and visible would be a wondeful thing in the state of PA, shame on fed for backing down. The township are suing the city of Allentown over the funding of the hockey arena, but they are no different then the city in expecting others to pay for what is their responsiblity.
Salisbury Resident May 17, 2012 at 05:47 PM
But Stephanie, we don't need new street signs. Every car has a GPS device in it with a little voice telling the driver where they've been, where they are and where they are going. Street sign money is wasted money. And the rail trail is there to help people combat their overweight lifestyles, because apparently there was no other way to exercise. No one has a back yard anymore and the Wii Fit ran out of batteries. {sarcasm at its best}
Jennifer Moyer May 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Staphanie Brown, from the beginning to the end of your rambling words you make no sense. How is it that the Neighborhood Improvement Zone in Allentown is the responsibility of the townships? While it may be true that the street signs would be easy to read, the people who want the signs should be the people paying for the signs, not make others pay. Stephanie, you sound like one of those people that think they are entitled to everything at others expense.

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