Mayor becomes league leader
Fulkerson will lead the state organization for a year, focusing on local tax reform.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- It's going to be a busy year for Mayor Timothy Fulkerson.
Fulkerson is taking over this month as president of the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, a lobbying organization with 73 member municipalities.
Fulkerson has served as the first vice president this past year.
He will keep his position as chairman of the legislative committee when he is installed as president June 16 in Wilkes-Barre.
"My main concern this year will be to work on legislation that will be for the betterment of all cities in Pennsylvania," he said.
He said he expects to focus on local tax reform issues.
"We have to find a way to work within the means of cities. The cities are made up of low to moderate income people. They do not have big retail centers and about 30 percent of the properties are tax exempt," he said.
Cities are often stuck with high property taxes and dwindling populations that can't afford all of the expected services, such as full-time fire and police forces, he said.
"Local tax reform would shift the burden, and it's a matter of fairness," he said.
He is a backing a bill that was passed by the Pennsylvania State House, but didn't make it out the state Senate committee last year.
The Municipal Public Safety Service Tax would allow New Castle and other designated third-class cities to charge people working in the city up to $50 each year in lieu of the $10 occupational privilege tax.
"If legislators don't help cities out soon and get a local tax reform, they are going to have to bail us out as distressed," he said. "It will be a bigger burden on the taxpayer."
Mayor first: Fulkerson said his term as president of the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities should not take away from his work in New Castle.
"I will visit other cities and municipalities to get a better understanding of what's going on in local government around the state. I will still be able to be the full-time mayor," he said.