Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mundie's Placating To The Voters Bites Him

Instead of focusing on leadership Jack Mundie's flaccid thinking draws him to digress into his political toolbox and use 1950's style campaigning during this election cycle.  Mr. Mundie ran on the coat tails of Lou Barletta, Joe Yannuzzi, and Evelyn Graham to win his elections.  Now he finds himself floating in the "Ocean of the Unknown" trying to run his first true solo campaign in a changed political environment.

In a veiled attempt to win voter sentiment Mr. Mundie placed a Resolution on the Hazleton City Council agenda to extend the tax deadline for property owners to pay their taxes to the City and still receive a discount.  The Local Tax Collection Law provides this language regarding discount dates.

Section 10. Discounts; Penalties; Notice.--(a) The rates of discounts and penalties on taxes shall be established by the taxing district. All taxpayers subject to the payment of taxes, assessed by any taxing district, shall be entitled to a discount of at least two per centum from the amount of such tax upon making payment of the whole amount thereof within two months after the date of the tax notice. All taxpayers, who shall fail to make payment of any such taxes charged against them for four months after the date of the tax notice, shall be charged a penalty of up to ten per centum which penalty shall be added.
The Ordinance passed by Hazleton City Council on January 3, 2013 did not specify the mailing date for property tax bills.  Evidently Council left that discretion to the Mayor who, through the City Administrator, would contact Berkheimer regarding the collection of the tax levy.  It was no secret that Hazleton property taxes were skyrocketing with the elimination of a $600,000 payment from Hazleton Creek Properties, the new MMO's(minimum municipal obligation) payments for its pensions, plus the increased debt service.  For months the public was forewarned in article after article.
If Jack Mundie wanted taxpayers to have additional time he had at least six months to express his concern.  Mundie's incessant rivalry has him only thinking of this election.  A true statesman thinks of the next generation.  His demgoguery of this administration serves to detract others from his continued failures as a councilman.  He acts in corners appealing to passions and prejudices rather than to reason and what is right for Hazleton.

Councilman Keith Bast made solid arguments at the March 20th meeting where Mudnie introduced his resolution accodring to this Standard Speaker article.  Bast demonstrated leadership and knowledge of government.

Vice President Keith Bast said that while council should work in the best interest of taxpayers, it must consider costs of borrowing money to cover city expenses if council were to give taxpayers more time to pay bills and qualify for a 2-percent rebate.

Bast contends that Mundie's request is politically motivated.

"We're obligated to taxpayers, but our job isn't not to have people pay taxes," Bast said. "It's a political move to try and get reelected."

Bast also argued that Mundie lobbied for the extension by introducing a resolution. Bast believes council cannot approve a resolution that supersedes regulations set by ordinance.

"I think it was political pandering for votes," Bast said.

Councilman Mundie asked the solicitor for his opinion in this matter after the April 25th vote.

Solicitor Chris Slusser opined "Section 37531 of the Third Class City Code is dispositive of the issue and it requires Council to utilize an Ordinance to “provide for the collection” of these taxes. Therefore the Resolution that passed is of no legal effect." Apparently twelve years on City Council isnt enough time for Mundie to learn the laws of his position.  After all it only took Keith Bast less than one term to be right on the mark.

Mundie's strategy backfired because the foundation on which it was based was flawed fundamentals.  Candidates should know they aren't in control during an election.  Trying to drive the bus because of vested selfishness will not sway the voters.

Louis McHenry Howe stated the following in 1933.  "You can't adopt politics as a profession and remain honest."  Mundie serves as an example.

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