Council rejects request for tax exemption help

Mifflin County Youth Baseball seek assistance with sales tax related to purchase of lights

LEWISTOWN — The Lewistown Borough Council rejected a request from the board of Mifflin County Youth Baseball to help with exemption from the sales tax associated with the purchase of lights for the Lewistown Rec Park, in a meeting Monday night.

John Pannizzo, of Lewistown, spoke to the council on behalf of the Mifflin County Youth Baseball board.

“We came here last year, we had a plan to put lights on Rec Park field,” Pannizzo said. “For us, it was about putting lights up for the kids–it’s a special feeling for the kids under the lights.”

Pannizzo mentioned that the installment of the lights were a part of the county and borough plans for enhancing and improving the parks within the community. The lights for Rec Park field were funded by the Mifflin County Youth Baseball program, with the help of fundraisers, donations and grants, and totaled an approximate $60,000.

Following the purchase and delivery of the lights, Pannizzo stated that he received an invoice outlining an additional sales tax of approximately $3,600. After receiving the invoice, he filed an application through the Department of Revenue to become exempt from the sales tax.

“We are a 501(c)(3),” Pannizzo said. “501(c)(3) is tax exempt–my issue here is that we are not sales tax exempt. We’re basically paying for the lights, but they are [the borough’s] property. If we co-partner on this, all it means is that the invoice is made out in both our names. We’ve paid the bill, so this is not about any money that needs paid.”

“I’m asking the borough council to really consider this request,” Pannizzo continued. “The $3,600 is a lot for all of us. We’re already partners in this because you accepted to have the lights on your property. We’re asking if you would do this small request and help us being exempt from paying $3,600.”

Following discussion, the council chose to reject the request due to various conditions.

“The only way a borough could spend that much money would be to go through a competitive bidding process,” Borough Solicitor Mark Remy stated. “If we’re signing off that we’re buying the lights, we kind of are [spending the money]. We’re not spending it, but we’re also saying we’re a purchaser. Even if you were to donate $60,000 to the borough, we would still have to buy whatever we ‘bought’ according to the law.”

The council then went on to explain that if they were to sign on as a purchaser, there would be certain procedures outlined by the state they would have to follow that would hinder the request.

“We weren’t supposed to be involved in anything at all with this when it came before the council,” Council President Larry Searer added. “I think we need to wait till our solicitor gets more information–I know what you’re up against though.”

Following Searer’s comment, Pannizzo concluded the discussion by stating, “When you say you know what we’re up against, that’s not really fair. When I’m here fighting for the kids of Mifflin County and instead of trying to find a solution, you’re just telling me what’s wrong with my request– that gets disheartening.”

The council also chose to have the finance board review wage rates for summer life guards and the new pool manager after it was suggested that the current wage should drop by $1 for the 2018 season.

Later, council member Frank Berrier presented a towing ordinance to the council that would allow for law enforcement to tow, remove or impound vehicles that are parked overtime or illegally on borough streets. The ordinance would also extend to vehicles that are uninspected. Following discussion, the council approved the ordinance, with council members Shade, Sievers and Campbell dissenting.

To conclude the meeting, the council chose to table discussion of reversing the direction of Marble Street on a trial basis to their next meeting in April–the reversal would be a part of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s 2019 signal upgrade project.

In other business, the council also approved the following under their regular agenda and as well as under new and old business:

¯ New payment rates for use of the community center.

¯ The use of the community center on May 5 with alcohol for Tonya Searer pending the receipt of an updated Certificate of Liability Insurance.

¯ The appointment of Keith Yoder to the Rec Board.

¯ The adoption of the CDBG 2016 agreement for the year of 2016, with council members Shade, Sievers and Campbell dissenting.

¯ The adoption of an updated fine and fee ordinance.

¯ CDBG modification by resolution.

¯ The release of the 2015 CDBG funds in the amount of $554.50 for South Wayne Street Advertisement and second quarter 2017 materials and supplies in the amount of $49.50.

¯ The appointment of William Clokey to the Planning Commission.

¯ The release of the first quarter allocations to the local fire companies.

¯ The award of the annual contract for computer maintenance at Borough Hall to GME Communications.

¯ Reinstatement of street sweeping as of April 2, 2018, with council members Sievers and Campbell dissenting.

¯ Handicap parking spaces for various Lewistown residents.

¯ Removal of a handicap parking space on Logan Street.

The Lewistown Borough Council meets the second Monday of each month at 5 p.m. at their new location in the Lewistown Community Center.