Dinniman town hall meeting to focus on state budget, education, pipeline
By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
Property tax reform, the Keystone Examination and the Eastern Shore pipeline will serve as the hot topics at the town hall meeting that State Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-19th District) will hold at the Avon Grove Intermediate School on July 29, beginning at 7 p.m.
A long-time proponent of reducing property taxes, Sen. Dinniman will provide an update on the current state budget -- still being hammered out in Harrisburg -- which Dinniman said continues to fall way short of providing any concrete measures intended to lower -- or eliminate -- property taxes throughout the Commonwealth.
"The reason I voted against the state budget was that there is nothing about property tax reform included in it," Dinniman said. "For decades, we promised we would take action on property taxes. When I became a county commissioner in 1992, this was a concern and I was hopeful it would have made movement. There is still hope. We have the obligation to all work together for a new budget, and this is where we can actually bring about property tax reform."
Dinniman said that while Pennsylvania lawmakers continue to grapple on the issue of property tax reform, residents with fixed incomes -- such as senior citizens -- are unfairly stuck with a whopping share of the tax burden. Dinniman has been a supporter of Senate Bill 76 which, if passed, would eliminate all school property taxes and raise the earned income tax, as well as the sales tax, in Pennsylvania. Additionally, the sales tax would be expanded through the closing of current exemptions.
There are only three ways to support public education in Pennsylvania, Dinniman said. "Income, property and sales. What happens year after year is that more and more of the burden falls on the property tax. In any tax scheme, someone gets hurt and someone gets help, and at this point, senior citizens are going to continue to be hurt more if we don't do something."
Dinniman said that his staff will hand out information that will include several property tax reform scenarios that are being discussed in Harrisburg, as well as enourage those in attendance to fill out a survey about property taxes.
Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, will also discuss his continuing opposition to the Keystone Exams, a state-wide initiative that requires students to pass exams in Alebra, Biology and Language Arts, in order to graduate.
The town hall meeting will also focus on the continued application of the Artesian Water Company to activate a well on property it owns in Landenberg -- which Dinniman is strongly opposed to.
Dinniman will also discuss the proposal by the Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company to build a 16-inch wide pipeline through southern Chester County. If built, the pipeline would run from the area of Wingate Farms, southeast under Route 841 and south through Thompson Estates, cross Route 896 and pass just a few yards south of the Franklin Township Building before rejoining the existing Eastern Shore pipelines that cross Franklin Township.
The Dover, Del.-based company already owns a right-of-way for its existing pipelines, and is seeking additional easements for facilities or temporary work spaces for construction along the pipelines.
"What I have found is that through the issues of Artesian and pipelines, there is a growing and strong movement in southern Chester County to maintain its agricultural heritage and open space and as much as possible," Dinniman said. "I sense it from citizens and many of the supervisors. What you're finding is a desire for the citizens to have the opportunity and the means to envision and form their own future."
Dinniman will remain after the town hall meeting to answer additional questions. The meeting will be held in the Audion Room of the Avon Grove Intermediate School, which is located at 395 South Jennersville Road, in West Grove.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.