The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

February 7, 2014

Council eyeing voter OK to raise realty transfer tax

By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — Sharon council plans to raise the city’s realty transfer tax if voters approve the hike but any higher rate probably won’t take effect until next year at the earliest.

Getting the issue before voters as soon as the May primary “would be a stretch,” Council President Ed Palanski said at Thursday’s workshop session.

“It might be possible but the public has to have time to digest this before they vote on it,” he said.

“I don’t think we have enough time to gather all the information we need to discuss it properly” before the May 20 primary, Palanski added.

The tax used across the state is levied on real estate when it is sold to a new owner. The revenue is split with the state and sometimes shared between local governments and local school districts.

In Sharon, the tax is 2 percent. The state gets half the revenue and the city and school district equally split the other half.

It is projected to raise about $70,000 this year for the general fund.

Sharon’s charter requires council to ask city voters in a referendum for approval to change the tax rate. That would require passage of an ordinance and a public hearing.

Council could set a new rate after voters OK a change, Palanski said.

Before lawmakers take those steps they want City Manager Scott Andrejchak to get realty transfer tax rates and revenue sharing information from Farrell and Hermitage.

Palanski also asked for an examination of property transfers in Sharon over the last five years so council can gauge the effect higher tax rates could have on revenue for the cash-strapped city.

Palanski said it’s not likely that the issue will be put before voters before November.

“We are probably looking at sometime next year for a new rate to go into effect,” he said.