Forever Lebanon Valley

Lebco GOP Committee Unhappy with Tax Hike, GOP County Commissioners

County Commissioners Bob Phillips and Jo Ellen Litz listen as an open letter is read about the proposed 2022 budget.

Lebanon County’s Republican Commissioners Bill Ames and Bob Phillips came under fire last Thursday by some of their brethren in the Lebanon County GOP.

65 members of the county’s Republican Committee signed a letter addressed to Ames and Phillips presented by Dawn Blauch, who is a member of the committee and County’s Elected Recorder of Deeds.

The missive voiced the committee’s strong opposition to the proposed 18% property tax increase in the county’s $123.9 million proposed budget for 2022.

This would be the first tax hike since 2016, when the same board of commissioners increased the county tax rate by 32%:

Ames and Phillips said their hand was forced by multi-year deficits that have been covered by carryover funds for several years.

But with escalating healthcare costs, salary increases, and the ongoing expenditure of $3 million a year to Primecare for medical services at the county jail coupled with the costs associated with the construction of the new Department of Emergency Services Headquarters, they had no choice but to impose a tax increase.

Commissioner Phillips was particularly perturbed and called the letter disingenuous:

And Commissioner Ames, who attended Thursday’s meeting via telephone, said this was nothing more than a publicity stunt by the GOP Committee:

Democrat County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz declined to comment, since the letter was not addressed to her.

There was also no commitment to review next year’s proposed budget nor make any changes prior to the special meeting set for this Thursday morning, when a final vote will be taken.