Pennsylvania’s township officials are taking aim at unfunded mandates, which they say waste millions in tax dollars every year.
Close to 4,000 local leaders attended the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors’ 90th Annual Educational Conference last week in Hershey, where they launched a campaign to eliminate the mandates that Harrisburg and Washington pass on to local governments without accompanying dollars.
Township officials wore green stickers, which featured a rifle’s crosshairs over the words “Unfunded Mandates” throughout the conference.
In particular, PSATS members have set their sights on the state’s outdated legal advertising requirements — studies say reforming these would save municipalities $23 million a year — and the prevailing wage, which can add up to 30 percent to public project costs.
Organizers say the campaign is having an impact. State lawmakers:
- Have eased up on municipal bidding requirements
- Delivered a natural gas impact fee that township officials say will benefit communities statewide
- Are considering significant prevailing wage reforms
Just last week, the Federal Highway Administration lifted a series of burdensome regulations that would have required municipalities to upgrade tens of thousands of street signs over the next few years — an unfunded mandate that would have cost townships and other local governments nationwide millions of dollars.
“All we want is some fairness, common sense, and balance restored to the system,” PSATS President David Sanko said. “Every level of government — local, state and federal — is feeling the financial squeeze. These days, the money simply doesn’t stretch as far as it once did. The economy isn’t helping, but neither is the rising cost of fuel and materials and decisions being made in Harrisburg and Washington.
The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors represents Pennsylvania’s 1,455 townships of the second class and for the past 91 years.Townships of the second class represent more residents — 5.5 million Pennsylvanians — than any other type of political subdivision in the commonwealth and cover 95 percent of the commonwealth’s land mass.