Categories Op/Ed

Letter to the Editor: Government Workers’ Pension Funds Deserve Investigation

Could you please put me in touch with a good investigative reporter that will look into the State Employees’ Retirement System and Public School Employees’ Retirement System? Something went very wrong with the retirement system sometime around 2001 which has led to taxpayers having to foot the bill for ever increasing retirement costs. The county, municipal, and school taxes levied against properties is being used to keep the retirement system afloat. Someone needs to expose this governmental malfeasance (wrongdoing or misconduct especially by a public official or officials). For clarity I would like to use malfeasance in a sentence. “The investigative reporter has uncovered evidence of governmental malfeasance.”  K. M Wolf’s letter to the Editor of The Elizabethtown Advocate (Aug. 24) was headlined, “Property Taxes Force Elderly People to Leave Their Homes.” It should have read “Governmental Malfeasance Forces Elderly People to Leave Their Homes.” I feel and share K. M. Wolf’s emotional agony over the property tax fiasco (a complete failure) in our commonwealth. I believe your heart does ache. Your sarcastic “Thank you” (a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain) directed at the school board and our wealthy senators is understandable because it was expressed so that they will feel your pain. Your despair is expressed in your statement “But you are heartless enough to throw the elderly out of their homes. We’re old, many of us still work in our 70s and 80s; we are not lazy. We just need property tax off our backs to die at home.”

I moved out of the Donegal School District to live in the Elizabethtown Area School District because I was told that our school tax would be lower because of a larger tax base. Since moving to Elizabethtown in 2015, our school tax has gone up every year. As a result of increased property taxes I began to get demoralized (to cause to lose hope, courage, or confidence. To weaken the morale of a person or group). But it is not in my nature to turn aside or away from what is good or true or morally right. So I started attending the monthly meetings of the Elizabethtown Area School District in which I live. I met with George Longridge, an employee of the EASD, who helped me to understand that the EASD is an employer as are all the other school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. From the EASD office I went to Rep. Dave Hickernell’s office in Elizabethtown, where I got a copy of Senate Bill No. 76 Line 5: “This act shall be known and may be cited as the Property Tax Independence Act.” A legislative proposal that would change how public education is funded. My state senator, Ryan P. Aument, is a sponsor of this bill. On Monday, Sept., from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Elizabethtown Borough Office, 600 S Hanover St., there will be a “Coffee and Conversation with Senator Aument.” If you are interested in attending, please contact his office at 717-627-0036.

I have found moral courage in reading The Elizabethtown Advocate. I have read the articles of the reporters covering the EASD monthly meetings and the letters to the editor. I want to thank the editor of the Advocate for giving citizens the opportunity to publish their opinions. I want to thank K. M. Wolf, Charlie H. Zuck, Paul Szuch, and Kevin Shorner-Johnson for their letters to the editor. Kevin Shorner-Johnson’s letter to the editor, July 27, “Schools Need Balance Revenue Streams to Educate Children” has a paragraph that needs to be investigated and understood by the tax payers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “Our teacher pension crisis in Pennsylvania was created by state government leadership in 2001 that was interested in looking the other way than raising funds to fix faulty planning and risk-taking. Now that we are in 2017, that mistake has been compounded and state government has shifted the burden to local school boards. I believe state leaders hope we will become mad at local governance for rising property taxes and not place the responsibility where the problem started.” Is faulty planning and risk-taking malfeasance. I would ask my representative and state senator to give us the facts about the pension funds. I have chosen a six-word sentence to encourage others as we seek to deal with this important issue: “Don’t be demoralized by school taxation.” It is my prayer that K. M. Wolf and her family will not have to give up on keeping their home after 35 years because of property taxes.

 

ROBERT YAHARA

Elizabethtown

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