The LuLac Edition #120, Dec. 30, 2006
PHOTO INDEX: L.A. TARONE, HOST OF WLYN TV 35's TARONE SHOW AND WILKES BARRE TAXPAYER ADVOCATE AND COUNCIL CANDIDATE WALTER GRIFFITH.
TO TAX OR NOT TO TAX
City Council recently sat down with community business leaders to propose an assessment for police protection, city upkeep as well as keeping the downtown spruced up. In the plan set forward in late December, the particulrs would be that city businesses would have to pay a surcharge in addition to their regular taxes to upkeep the downtown renewal. City taxpayer advocate Walter Griffith sent me the entire document on this thing. Because of the holidays, I didn't get a chance to get through it until now. But here are my thoughts and questions:
TAXES: Aren't the people in business paying city taxes right now and wouldn't another voluntary contribution seem to be a double tax? Gus Genetti's curious observation that there are 100 things that might be wrong with it but he'll support it anyway is something I just don't understand. This is the same guy, who with his brother Bill in the 80s opposed a dedicated room tax for tourism development because hotel guests might not want to pay that extra money. This blind faith is astounding to me. However in a way it is admirable because it shows Genetti's dedication to the city. Other businesses opined that the fee would seem to be a double tax and if they are required to pay it, it's clear to me that the cost of it will be passed on to consumers.
THE CITY: I give the city an "A" for trying to get a handle on budgeting money for services. Times are different and cities have to start thinking out of the box in order to get things accomplished. But with all the empty store fronts in town now which need to be filled up, is proposing a fee for businesses a major selling point for a pizza shop, hair salon or stationary store to relocate to the city? And I guess I wonder how the city will collect the fee? Through the existing taxing agencies that might charge a percentage or worse yet, creating an in house bureau that would become another arm of city government?
REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS: How much are they paying for the upkeep of properties? I always thought that when you rented a facility, whether it be an apartment, store front or home, the landlord always picked up the cost of maintainance? Are the real estate developers who charge businesses a hefty rent check getting a pass?
PAST HISTORY: I have lived through the Committee of 100, Wilkes Barre 2, The The Downtown Merchant's Association, The Downtown Wilkes Barre Business and Professional's Association, The Downtown Development Committee as well as the Downtown Business Council. In forty years, the businesses took it upon themselves to promote the city as well as convene meetings to get public support from city officials. Major events like the Luzerne County Bicentennial, the 1976 Bicentennial, the Great American Race in 1986 and 1988 all had help and support from the city administration. To me, it is a twist that now it is the city coming to the businesses asking for financial support. And if this fee passes, will the city give the businesses a cost accounting of the services?
FAIRNESS: You saw the "I Believe" sign and you believed. So you opened up your bagel shop and now the guy across the street is moving in but had KOZ money. He won't be taxed. Is that fair?
COUNCIL'S ACTIONS: They tabled it at the last meeting. We need more facts, a better breakdown of how this is going to happen and an elimination of at least 50% of Gus Genetti's concerns. Wilkes Barre can move forward but within the budget parameters it has right now. Unless there is a clear demonstration that services will be enhanced, this thing should be studied long and hard with full, multiple public hearings.
One of the best editorials on the death of President Ford was given by WLYN TV 35's L.A. Tarone. Tarone's editorials are seen and heard every Friday at around 5:20PM on Wilkes Barre Service Electric station 21. Tarone also appeared on a Year In Review show that was outstanding along with WLYN TV veteran Don Pachance.
A long time Democrat before becoming a Green in 2000, Fiorucci said he will run for County Commissioner in the 2007 primary as a Democrat."After seeing what happened to Romanelli in his bid as a Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, getting the signatures required to run as an Independent is just too risky," said Fiorucci.Mario Fiorucci earned an MA in government from Georgetown University in 1982. He had graduated with honors from College Misericordia in 1980. He returned to the area after working in the brokerage business from 1983 to 1995. His interest in regionalization and Home Rule government started with articles he wrote for his free public interest newsletter..In 2005, Fiorucci was a candidate for mayor of Sugar Notch. The race was widely covered by the press and local TV news. More recently, Fiorucci has assessed the skills and management capabilities of local elected officials in various municipalities. Then in a 2006, PBS State of Pennsylvania forum, titled "Small town mayors, Big city challenges," he engaged the panel in a discussion of his theory that "without significant regionalization or consolidation among municipalities, a community college-based program of continuing education for elected officials should be established."In response, the mayor of Sunbury concurred by stating that "as its’ been alluded to here, it (management by part-time elected officials) just doesn't work." The mayor of Kingston also said "a professional manager is necessary to solve the problem."In assessing major county related issues, Fiorucci thinks the proposed $100 million prison proposal should be put on the ballot as a bond funding vote. He would also consider private prison management in an effort to control costs and pay down prison issued debt.Regarding regionalization, Fiorucci wrote widely about establishing ‘Tax-Base Sharing’ programs among all municipalities. He also thinks that "Municipal Service Districts"should be enacted to create 'functional consolidation' among municipalities. A MunicipalService District would consist of five or more contiguous towns that have a combined population of more than 20,000.Past articles or letters to the editor by Fiorucci can be found on Google by searching for:"Mario Fiorucci, Sugar Notch." He can also be reached at (570)-819-0721..
ALL ABOUT MARIO
Sugar Notch, Pennsylvania, US
Luzerne County Green Party founding member, Mario Fiorucci, will seek the office of Commissioner for Luzerne County as a registered "Independent." A life long resident of Sugar Notch, Mr. Fiorucci achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in 1973 and was the assistant Scout Master for old Troop 417 in 1976. He more recently served the N.E.P.A. Council of Boy Scouts of America as a member of the Gathering of Eagles committee. Mr. Fiorucci was a 1977 graduate of L.C.C.C. and a 1980 graduate of College Misericordia in Dallas, PA. with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. He also earned a Masters degree in political science from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. in 1982. During his studies at Georgetown he interned for Congressman Adam Benjamin and worked on several presidential campaigns. For the next eighteen years he was employed in the financial services industry in New York City and in N.E.P.A. when he returned in 1996. Mr. Fiorucci was responsible for re-introducing the concept of regionalization of municipal services when he began writing and speaking upon the subject in 1999 via his free public interest newsletter, the Town News.