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GALE: Entitlement and Greed Behind Montco Commissioners’ Vote To Raise Their Own Pay

While Santa Claus is saying ho, ho, ho Montgomery County’s Democrat commissioners are once again saying go, go, go to higher property taxes.

As a result, homeowners will see their 2023 county tax bill soar by eight percent. It will be the fifth rate increase in the last eight years.

Money grabs have become the new normal as Democrat Commission Chair Val Arkoosh has established a long history of raising taxes (see 2016, 2017, 2021, and 2022). But it wasn’t without help. For example, the 2016 tax hike was passed with “yes’’ votes from now Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro and my Republican predecessor on the Board of Commissioners, Bruce Castor.

 

 

Truth be told, I am the only Montgomery County Commissioner in over a decade to vote ‘no’ to a tax increase.

And I have done so consistently, as it is my moral and fiduciary duty to be a conservative watchdog for the silent majority who are sick and tired of being fleeced by wasteful and reckless spending.

Speaking of wasteful and reckless spending, I recently voted “no” to a 12 percent pay raise for elected officials and went on the record to refuse participation in the compensation package that the Democrat county commissioners voted to approve. That’s right, I am NOT taking the money.

It is stunning and appalling that my colleagues had the nerve to award themselves a taxpayer-funded salary increase during a time when so many people are out of work and struggling to make ends meet.

The sense of entitlement and greed is overwhelming. In fact, the excess is so rampant that it is nearly impossible to detail the county’s many layers of largesse. The most egregious of which involves the decadent renovation of the justice center in Norristown.

Thanks to spiraling construction costs and countless contract amendments, the price of this boondoggle has already surpassed $400 million. The final tab is anybody’s guess. But what’s for sure is Montgomery County taxpayers will be footing the enormous bill.

In addition to shining a spotlight on extravagant capital budget expenditures, I have also opposed millions of dollars in outrageous spending related to the county’s bloated operating budget – which includes, among other things, a multitude of mail-in voting contracts and woke Diversity, Equity & Inclusion training.

Now is not the time for more of the same. Facing the hurdles of runaway food and energy prices, empty store shelves, and shrinking 401(k)s, the last thing families, retirees and small businesses need is the burden of higher taxes thrown in their faces.

In these uncertain times, Montgomery County residents deserve a voice of sanity. And I will continue to be that voice in an effort to restore common sense and fiscal responsibility to the county courthouse.

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Shapiro Promises No New Taxes, But Critics Say He’s Broken That Pledge Before

Democrat Josh Shapiro promises to cut taxes if elected governor.

Specifically, Shapiro says he would cut the cellphone tax, send $250 gas tax rebates to car owners, and expand the property tax and rent rebate program. Both Shapiro and his Republican opponent, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, agree the state’s corporate taxes  — the second highest in the country — should be reduced to attract businesses and jobs.

But Shapiro had a record of raising taxes when he served as a Montgomery County commissioner, despite promising voters during the campaign that he would not.

Shapiro voted to raise Montgomery County property taxes in 2015 and 2016 by a total of 21 percent. In 2015, Shapiro had just been re-elected as commissioner and in 2016, he had been elected as attorney general and was leaving his county post when he voted to again raise taxes.

Before being elected county commissioner, Shapiro pledged not to raise taxes.

In 2016, Joe Gale, the minority Republican Commissioner, called the tax increases “a money grab.”

Gale pointed out that in addition to hiking property taxes, Shapiro and Commissioner Val Arkoosh also voted to increase health inspection fees on businesses by 2 percent over three consecutive years. And Shapiro voted to increase the vehicle registration fees for county car and truck owners. The two Democratic commissioners also voted to increase the hotel tax by 100 percent. Shapiro voted to institute a separate community college levy, having the taxpayers pay for it separately and removing the county’s contribution to the college from the general fund, freeing up $22 million, said Gale.

“Josh Shapiro campaigned for county commissioner on a no-tax pledge, yet within weeks of being re-elected commissioner, Shapiro voted to increase taxes by 10 percent,” Gale said at the time. “Just a few weeks after being elected to his new position (attorney general), he’s increased taxes by 11 percent.”

Gale said, “There’s a pattern here. You elect Josh Shapiro on a Tuesday and the next week you’re hit with a double-digit tax increase…A 21 percent tax increase over the course of two years is outrageous.”

Skippack resident Mike Marino, a former Montgomery County Commissioners chair, said Shapiro “imposed an assessment as a contribution to Montgomery County Community College. It appears on my county bill of over $100 each year. It was a sneaking way of raising your taxes without calling it a tax. He is a typical Democrat that constantly raises taxes and then states that he does not. Just another attempt to deceive the public. Exactly the same tricks as Joe Biden.”

For his part, Shapiro tweeted on June 22, “As county commissioner, I inherited a deficit – so I got to work. I balanced our budget, and by the end of my term, Montgomery County was back on track to financial stability. Experience matters.”

Shapiro’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment about Shapiro’s record on taxes.

Gale, who had also run for governor but lost to Mastriano in a crowded Republican primary, added, “Josh Shapiro is, and has always been, a tax and spend liberal who has never seen a money grab he didn’t like. Once elected governor, he will grow the size of government and the already bloated state budget.”

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