Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Transcript of April 21, 2003 Earned Income Discussion

Following is the verbatim transcript of the Earned Income Tax discussion held at the April 21, 2003, Board of Supervisors business meeting. Please note that the following is taken from the last part of the meeting. The Earned Income Tax topic began discussions during a recess requested by the Scipione representatives. The taped portion of this is no longer available, but according to my notes, all that transpired before the Scipione representatives returned, was there was a motion (KK) and a second (MR), and Mrs. Ewald had expressed her wish to send out her letter of descent. There was no discussion yet, and immediately following, at 10:27 pm, the Scipione topic resumed.

PH: “OK, next we have the Earned Income Tax letter. I make a motion to accept it and send it out.”

IE: “I think we have a motion on the table.”

HW: “There’s a motion already on the table and a second.”

PH: “So we’re in the discussion stage?”

HW: “Yes, we’re in the discussion stage.”

PH: “Irene, do you have some issues with it?”

IE: “My issues with it is that you’re not sending information that asks the people to give you feedback. What you’re doing is you’re telling people what you’re going to do instead of asking people. And that’s a real big difference.”

KK: “I take exception to that.”

IE: “I read it very carefully and I do believe that your revised version corrected up a lot of the objections that I initially had, which was that it was very sloppy with the details. You tightened that up; the details are tighter now, and, you know, it’s not just throwing out $100k when it’s $90k, $250k when it’s $220k or whatever. You’ve tightened up the details…that’s fine.”

KK: “Actually the numbers didn’t change, Irene, except for commercial real estate and the number of residents in the Township. The tax dollar numbers didn’t change at all.”

IE: “Kevin, I’m not arguing that. What I’m saying is that the whole approach, and where this Board has gotten in trouble with this approach in previous letters is that we haven’t gone to the people and asked them, we’ve told them. And I think that is a big reason why we have not been successful. I think this is a real important issue. This is not something that is, like, well, if it happens it happens, and if it doesn’t happen, it’s not important. It’s a real important issue. And as an important issue, it should be done right.”

KK: “It starts out ‘The Board of Supervisors is considering levying…’, and quite frankly, Irene, I think the Board is in favor of doing this. We don’t have to ask the people in order to do it.”

IE: “That’s right and I would like…no, you don’t have to ask permission of the people to do anything, but the people have a right then to really object. You saw people objecting tonight. That’s why I say I’d like to send out my copy as a dissenter. And I’m happy to do that.”

KK: “You can, but as far as I’m concerned, not on the Township’s tab.”

IE: “Well then Kevin, if you want to open that can of worms, then I’m going to start raising some questions about some newsletter that you sent out.”

KK: “Please do. What are you talking about? Open a can of worms.”

IE: “I don’t think we need to go there.”

KK: “You can go there if you want.”

HW: “Let me take a step back for a second. Irene, you said this is a very important issue, yet you won’t take the time to say what you would do with this letter to make it present better.”

IE: “I would turn it around and present the information to people for their feedback. This is the information we got from Berkheimer. Do you think that makes sense for us to do X? And have them respond back. Get the feedback from the people. Instead of just sending it out as a very long letter. I mean, you know, first of all, the length of the letter is, is necessary but extremely long. How many people are going to sit down and take the time? In Charlestown, people are going to take the time because we have a different type of constituency here. They are really more involved than other places, but it’s still very, very long.”

PH: “Why did you wait to give your input?”

IE: I didn’t wait. I started to give my input and I was basically put off with a ‘Oh this is some sort of election politics.’ And I think that the person who made that comment was playing election politics.”

KK: “Who made that?”

IE: “You did.”

KK: “When?”

IE: “You want me to send you the email tomorrow, I’ll send it to you.”

KK: “Please do.”

IE: “But the bottom line is it’s a question of style. You can take the same information and material and ask the people rather than telling the people, and that is my biggest objection.”

KK: “Where did we tell them? Please show me in the letter where?”

IE: “You’re not asking the question.”

KK: (quoting the letter): ‘We are considering levying…’ “That was one item, and then there’s another item in here, Irene, that says, ‘The Board of Supervisors will be holding public meeting on June 16 to answer any questions you may have about this new tax. Additional meetings will be scheduled if necessary. We encourage you to give this plan for the preservation of open space careful consideration and look forward to your questions and comments.’ Where aren’t we asking?”

IE: “The whole format of the letter is not asking.”

HW: “Well would you take a stab yourself at it then?”

IE: “Absolutely.”

KK: “I got a problem with that. You were asked to do that a month ago. We’re running out of time here. We’re going to keep putting this thing off and we’re going to be too late to do it.”

IE: “You just want to do it your way Kevin.”

KK: “No Irene, I had the vote of the Board.”

PH: “Yes, we voted on that.”

KK: “What meeting weren’t you at?”

IE: “Kevin, you know, if it’s not your way, it’s not any way. Now I tried to make these comments…

KK: “I could say the same thing about you Irene. You say you want to inform everybody, but you want to inform everybody with a letter of descent.”

IE: “Well I certainly would do that.”

KK: “So that means we’re asking for their input by sending out a letter of descent? Is that your approach?”

IE: “Sure.”

KK: “To communicating this very important issue?”

IE: “Absolutely.”

PH: “I think that’s a bad idea.”

KK: “So do I.”

IE: “I want to make it very, very clear that I don’t go along with this letter. And when that letter goes out, I think it needs to be said in the letter. “

KK: “Well don’t sign it. That pretty much says it, doesn’t it?”

IE: “No it doesn’t.”

KK: “Why not?”

IE: “Just looks like I was absent and I certainly wasn’t absent.”

KK: “We’ll add a tag line to the letter that says, “Irene doesn’t like this.” Is that good enough?”

IE: “No, actually it’s not and I don’t appreciate your tone Kevin.”

KK: “Well, I’m sorry Irene.”

IE: “You asked for input, I give you input…”

KK: “You gave no input”

IE: “Excuse me?”

KK: “You gave no input. You were asked for input a month ago. This letter was circulated, in fact it was more than a month ago.”

IE: “I gave you input.”

KK: “You gave no input. All you said was, ‘your facts are erroneous and it’s a misleading letter.’ You gave no input. You were critical on it. You gave zero input.”

IE: “Critical?”

KK: “Yes.”

IE: “I was critical and that’s no input?”

KK: “Irene, a concept is, when you give input, is if there’s a mistake you correct it. Irene, two people on this Board sent you an email asking you to be specific about your criticisms. And what was your answer? Zip.”

IE: “That isn’t true.”

KK: “It is true and you’re a liar if you’re going to sit here and say it isn’t true.”

IE: “Kevin, you’re out of line.”

KK: “ooo, I’m out of line. And Mr. Willig agrees with me.”

IE: “ don’t’ care whether he agrees with you.”

KK: “because he sent you the other emails and you didn’t respond to either of us, so to make an accusation that you did, is an outright lie.”

IE: “That’s fine Kevin. You know, your tone is always nasty, condescending, and insulting.”

KK: “Yes, I know, and yours is always so nice.”

IE: “I did not approach this subject with a condescending or nasty tone. You’re making it nasty, and I object to that at this table.”

PH: “So do we have a vote? 4 to 1 or what?”

HW: “Is there a disagreement in principle of levying the tax for open space?”

IE: “Yes.”

HW: “How come there is a disagreement? If the disagreement is that fundamental, then no letter Kevin’s going to write is going to make you happy.”

IE: “I didn’t ask Kevin to write it. I said I would write my letter of descent. I mean, if the Supreme Court of this country can have a majority and a minority then I don’t see why this Board can’t. I’ll certainly be happy to present it as a minority opinion.”

HW: “We’re not the Supreme Court.”

KK: “Why do you oppose the tax? You’re in favor of preserving open space. How do we deal with it if we don’t raise money for it.”

IE: “It’s as fundamental as the way you’ve presented it.”

KK: “No, you said you were fundamentally opposed to an earned income tax. I’m asking you a question. If you’re opposed to that, how do you propose solving the problem?”

IE: “I don’t propose to solve the problem without asking the people instead of telling them and I don’t think that you’re presenting it right.”

KK: “So you have to ask somebody for the answer? You were elected to run this Township along with the rest of us. I’m asking you what your input is as far as how we preserve open space. And what your alternative is. And why you’re opposed to an earned…tell me why you’re opposed to an earned income tax? That’s an easy question.”

IE: “Because I don’t believe your numbers and if you can’t convince me…”

KK: “Forget my numbers. Why are you opposed to raising tax revenues through an earned income tax?”

IE: “If you can’t convince me, then how are you going to convince the people of the Township?”

KK: “Can we get back to the question I asked you? You’re having trouble focusing on it.”

KK: “What part of an earned income tax are you opposed to?”

IE: “Paying it.”

KK: “Why?”

IE: “I don’t see why I should pay an earned income tax.”

KK: “I don’t see why I should except I want to see open space preserved in Charlestown so I’m willing to do that.”

IE: “Well that’s fine.”

KK: “There’s always going to be some people in this Township that don’t want to pay taxes. I suspect if the Federal Government sent a letter around tomorrow to everybody and said, “Do you want to pay income taxes anymore?” they’d get no for an answer.”

IE: “Well I think you’re going to get no for an answer on this…because of the way it’s presented to the people, number 1. Number 2, you want to restrict the use of the funds to buying scenery and I don’t agree with that either. Those are two very fundamental reasons to be a dissenting voice.”

HW: ??? (sorry, couldn’t hear this short statement).

IE: “Well, if you think the letter convinces you, that’s fine. The letter does not convince me. Could I be convinced? Yes, but not this way.”

KK: “Could you tell me where in the letter you think there’s something misleading or erroneous? And instead of just telling me the whole tone, could you be specific?”

IE: “I went through all the Berkheimer numbers again today, and they are guesses. They are not carved in fact numbers.”

KK: “Wait, wait a minute…wait a minute…the numbers you went through where they made the statement, I think I even quoted it, ‘Berkheimer Associates in 2001, 2 years ago, collected taxes from 747 Charlestown residents who worked in other municipalities. The total they collected was $354k.’ What the hell in that number is an estimate?”

IE: “Go back to the rest of it. You’re only reading a portion of it.”

KK: “What rest of it? Correct me. Educate me. I’m asking.”

IE: “Kevin, you know,…”

KK: “Irene, you’re making vague statements. Tell me where it’s wrong.”

IE: “I have to write my letter.”

KK: “Fine. Send it out on your dime.”

IE: “No I won’t. I’ll send it out on the Township’s dime.”

KK: “You better get Board’s approval for that and you’re not going to get my vote.”

IE: “Well then you have to stop using Township funds to send out campaign literature for some of the people who want to run for election and that’s what you did.”

KK: “What did I do? Tell me what I did.”

IE: “Well, you know, you sent out an Open Space newsletter and you put a major article in from a political candidate on the front page who’s not a member of the Open Space Committee. That’s using taxpayers’ money to run a political campaign.”

KK: “He was asked to write the letter. Quite frankly, I didn’t even read the article. What was offensive about the article? I honestly haven’t read it.”

IE: “I just told you what was offensive about it.”

KK: “What?”

IE: “You used taxpayers’ money to run a political campaign.”

KK: “What was offensive about the article?”

IE: “Well, if you didn’t read it, then you should read it. Because he wasn’t a member of the Open Space Committee and he wrote a political article on the front page of the Open Space Committee newsletter.”

IE: “You know, Kevin, you’re never going to be happy on this Board.”

KK: “Not as long as you’re on it, quite honestly, you’re right.”

IE: “You’re never going to be happy on this Board, so keep your unhappiness to yourself, because I really am not interested in your opinion.”

PH: “The motion is made and seconded to send the letter, right? All in favor?”

HW: “I’m not sure. (there was a sentence in there that wasn’t audible on the tape). I know I’m not interested in sending out two letters.”

PH: “How about if we get Irene to rewrite the letter and we’ll vote on that?”

MR: “What I gather from what Irene is saying is she’s against the tax. It’s not the way it’s being presented. Am I reading you right? You’re against the tax?”

IE: “In the way this letter presents it, yes. But could I be convinced? I could be convinced, but not in this fashion.”

PH: “Are you against an earned income tax for Charlestown?”

MR: “It’s a simple question. Yes or no?”

IE: “I don’t know the answer to that. On the basis of this letter,…”

PH: “Forget the letter. Are you against an earned income tax?”

IE: “I don’t know the answer to that.”

MR: “How can you not know the answer to that Irene?”

IE: “When I get more information back from the people.”

KK: “If you don’t know if you’re for the earned income tax, how can you expect the people to be governed?”

IE: “Well, you know, that’s the whole point that I made. I’m glad you finally got it.”

KK: “Ahhh yes, the answer will come to us.”

IE: “Yes, you have to ask.”

KK: “Then what the hell are we here for?”

HW: “But there’s also an element of leadership. If they object, they’ll tell us.”

IE: “Well, I’m objecting and I’m telling you.”

HW: “Well that’s what this signature is for.”

KK: “That’s fine. You have every right to object. I appreciate that.”

HW: “We’re calling for a meeting on the 16th so that you can express all your objections at that time.”

IE: “Why don’t you call for a meeting on the 15th of September when people are back from their summer vacations?”

KK: Because we need to put a referendum on it, assuming we agree to what we talked about previously, so we can allocate the money, so it doesn’t get used for any willy-nilly thing in the Township, so it is actually used for open space preservation, and we can’t wait until September to do that and put a referendum on the November ballot.”

HW: “I’m really disappointed with the way this discussion is going.”

PH: “So we’re 3 to 2 actually now, right?”

HW: “I’ll go along with sending out the letter, but I just can’t believe this discussion has taken this turn at this point…this late.”

MR: “Has the vote been taken, or not?”

PH: “All in favor? 4 in favor, 1 opposed.”

PH: “Any questions?”

PH: “So moved.”

Transcript Prepared by: Melanie Lammers May 8, 2003