Welcome to another edition of Northeast Notes! This year, Pennsylvania commemorates May 7 as “Police Officers’ Memorial Day” and the week of May 13 to 19 as “National Police Week.” I am proud to introduce this resolution every year in the Senate because it is a reminder that our law enforcement officials put their lives on the line for our safety.
I am grateful to the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police and all first responders who patrol our communities and work hard to maintain peace.
For all the latest news on what’s going on in Harrisburg and in Northeast Philadelphia, check out www.senatorstack.com, become a fan on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.
SENATOR MIKE STACK
Discussing Impact of Property Tax Reassessment
Sen. Stack speaks with Tacony residents about the property tax reassessment plan.
As the City of Philadelphia undergoes a property assessment overhaul, residents across some older sections of Northeast Philadelphia could see a spike in their property taxes.
Rep. Mike McGeehan and I have been hearing constituents’ concerns about Mayor Michael Nutter’s Actual Value Initiative (AVI). We recently met with Tacony residents to talk about the reassessment plan. We also introduced our legislation that would put pressure on the city to collect property taxes on delinquent homeowners and would ease the impending financial burden on taxpayers.
The mayor’s reassessment proposal would bring in an additional $90 million in property taxes, but at the expense of many longtime homeowners.
Rather than placing the burden on the homeowners who pay their taxes, the city should first go after the many property owners who have failed to pay their taxes.
Philadelphia has a tax delinquency rate of 19 percent. Delinquent taxpayers owe the city over $470 million as of 2011.
McGeehan and I have both authored legislation that would impose a homestead property tax exemption for owner-occupied properties, from both city and school district taxes.
I also authored a bill that would prohibit the City of Philadelphia from increasing property taxes if the city’s property tax collection rate is less than 95 percent. The bill would also give home-owning senior citizens in Philadelphia with household incomes of $60,000 or less, the option to defer the payment of property tax increases until they sell their house. Homeowners who have lived at their primary residence for 20 or more years would receive the same tax deferment opportunity. Recently unemployed homeowners would receive a one-year deferment, which would be collected upon the sale of the home.
HEMAP Elimination Unnecessary; Funds are Available
For nearly 30 years, the Homeowners Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) provided emergency mortgage assistance to more than 46,000 families. Eighty-five percent of the families who used the program stayed in their homes long term.
However, under the Corbett Administration, the program has been eliminated from the governor’s 2012-13 state budget proposal.
There is a way that the state can fund the program. Pennsylvania is among the many states that will benefit from the $25 billion joint federal-state agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers. The settlement is the result of investigations spurred by attorneys general and banking regulators from across the nation in response to abuses in the mortgage serving industry.
Under the agreement, Pennsylvania is slated to receive $266 million. This settlement includes funds for homeowner mortgage loan modification and relief, direct cash payment to borrowers, refinancing loans, and a $69 million direct payment to the Office of Attorney General.
Because part of this settlement is to be used toward mortgage relief to help homeowners stay in their homes, the funding should go to restart HEMAP.
My Senate Democratic colleagues and I have written a letter to Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly urging the state to use a portion of the funds to reestablish this important program.
Using the joint federal-state settlement to restart HEMAP is a simple, common sense move that deserves serious consideration.
Veterans’ Services Coordinator Available at Bustleton Office
A veterans’ services coordinator is now available at my district office at 8016 Bustleton Ave. to assist former service men and women.
Joseph Buckley, a veteran with extensive veteran outreach experience, will be available every Friday morning by appointment to help veterans and their families with various issues, including housing for homeless vets, access to medical services, obtaining deceased vets’ medals for surviving families and more.
Buckley, of Mayfair, is a retired Marine and lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Disabled American Veterans, and the Marine Corps Association. He also currently serves as Assistant Department Service Officer for VA Regional Service Office in Philadelphia and Coatesville.
To make an appointment, call 215-695-1020.
Need a Photo ID? I Can Help!
Under Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law, every voter will be required to show a valid form of identification in order to vote, starting with the General Election in November.
Do not wait until November to obtain the proper ID. Take the steps now to make sure that your vote counts in this year’s general election and all future elections. My staff and I will gladly help you ensure that you have the proper documentation to obtain a state-issued ID.
For comprehensive information on the types of ID that qualify and how to apply for a free ID, visit my website. Also, please do not hesitate to contact me for assistance.
Offices of State
Senator Mike Stack
Office Hours: Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.