DuBois City Drops Per Capita Tax

DUBOIS – The per capita tax for DuBois City has been dropped for a $10 yearly savings to all residents.

The $10 per person tax of the DuBois Area School Board will remain in effect.

Both per capita taxes were collected by DuBois City, and it will attempt to convince the DuBois Area School District to drop its per capita tax.

The per capita tax is for living in DuBois City and is on all individuals older than 18 years.  It also applies if you are a property owner, renting, working or retired.

“Sadly to say, it is only $10, and it is hard to collect that tax,” said City Deputy Treasurer Tom Nowak.

Nowak indicated at Monday’s council meeting and the Nov. 5 work session that the per capita tax was no longer worth the time and effort to collect.

At the work session meeting, Nowak explained that 4,226 bills for the per capita tax were sent out.  Of those, only 70 percent have been paid to the city.

He said that an additional 255 were exonerated and ruled that the individuals were not applicable to pay the tax.

At Monday’s meeting, Nowak used a specific example of a citizen who had sent in their per capita tax late.

He said as a result, DuBois City had spent money on the envelope and postage, which is currently $0.49 but Nowak rounded up to $0.50.

According to him, bills, which are not paid on time, can result in a second notification letter for more postage. He said this is causing the cost to increase to $1 to collect $10.

This citizen mailed the tax in via a money order, which Nowak estimated cost them $2 and then $0.50 for postage. He said that puts the cost up to $3.50 spent between the citizen and the city on a $10 tax.

Nowak said that this citizen overpaid, and it would now cost $4 to all parties involved extra.  He mentioned there was also the time spent by city employees handling the collection of the per capita tax.

“We can’t charge more than $10 with our per capita.  We don’t even get $10 back,” said Nowak.

“If this were a $100 tax, it would be worth it.  When it is $10, it isn’t,” said City Manager John “Herm” Suplizio.

Nowak offered a different source for the missing revenue with increasing the building tax in DuBois City. He said currently buildings are taxed at 2 mills, and his proposal was to increase the rate to 2.75 mills.

Nowak used Suplizio’s house as an example.  The increased millage, he said, would mean that Suplizio would spend an extra $10 on tax for that building.

Because Suplizio didn’t live alone, Nowak said that it would actually be a tax cut for both people living in the house.

Councilwoman Diane Bernardo pointed out that with this change, she would see a tax increase overall.  She noted living alone and owning her home would mean at its value, she’d be paying $10.94.

Bernardo was not at the work session meeting to discuss the proposal.

“Why are we asking our residents to subsidize the large part of our community that are rental people?” asked Bernardo.

Bernardo argued that the tax was focused more on the residents who owned their own homes.

Nowak, who is a landlord, said that landlords would be billing their tenants for costs. He said that this will guarantee renters pay the per capita tax through indirect means.

Bernardo believed that the residents should do more to help the city in providing the documentation to prove they should pay the per capita tax. She also suggested alternative ways to determine who is 18 years old and is living in the city:

  • by using the DASD alumni books. However, Nowak countered, saying this would take increased time and expense by city employees. Also, he said it would not provide information on who moved in from outside of DuBois or what DuBois Area High School graduate moved out.
  • by using the DASD’s per capita list. Nowak countered that the DASD’s list is based upon the city’s list.
  • by having citizens bring in the paperwork themselves. Nowak said this would require city employees to do additional work to verify the paperwork.
  • by having landlords keep a list of renters and family older than 18 years and submitting that to the city.

“The taxes are going to go up.  They are going to go up on the school level.  They are likely going to go up next year on the county level,” said Bernardo.

City Solicitor Toni Cherry explained to council that any decision had to be made soon if the council wanted to apply any changes for the 2016 tax year.

Suplizio then suggested dropping the per capita tax without raising the building mills in order to get a decision made for drafting the 2016 budget.

“I think we would be better off as a community and a nation if people were asked to help out a bit more,” said Bernardo.

Council proceeded to vote on a motion to drop the per capita tax.

Councilmembers Edward Walsh, Randy Schmidt and Mayor Gary Gilbert voted in favor.

Bernardo was hesitant for a period of time. Eventually, she asked if the motion included increasing the building tax mills to 2.75.

Walsh explained his motion was to only drop the per capita tax.  Bernardo then voted no.

Councilmember Jim Aughenbaugh was absent from the meeting.

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