RAYAC News Briefs March 27, 2017
NAR urges Mnuchin to protect MID
NAR 2017 President William E. Brown has sent a letter to new Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging him to protect the current tax benefits of homeownership as the Trump Administration seeks to reform the federal income tax system. Referring to recent media reports where Mnuchin promised to leave "the mortgage interest deduction as is," the letter explained that certain types of tax reform plans, such as the "Blueprint" put forward by House Republicans last year, also pledge to leave the deduction untouched. However, by nearly doubling the standard deduction while repealing most itemized deductions, "the Blueprint would in fact have the consequences of nullifying not only the MID, but also other tax incentives of owning a home for the great majority of Americans who now are, or who aspire to become, homeowners." The letter goes on to explain that this kind of approach to tax reform could harm the incentive effect that makes purchasing a home easier for the first-time homebuyer and also could lead to a drop in the value of all existing homes. "The overall result could be a disastrous downturn in the quality of many neighborhoods and communities, and especially our most vulnerable ones," Brown said in the letter. The letter concludes by asserting that REALTORS ® support tax reform, but that in making needed changes, we should "not discard the features of our tax system that make America a homeownership society."
Source: Nar.realtor; 3/17/2017
Trump Administration releases budget
On Thursday, March 16, President Trump released the " America First - A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again . " The budget does not include many details, but is more an outline of President Trump's spending proposals. House and Senate appropriations committees will review the budget proposals and will develop the final budget documents for the President's signature. Of interest to NAR, the budget would cut $6.2 billion from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and proposes eliminating the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, Choice Neighborhoods, the HOME Investment Partnership program and Self-help Housing programs (SHOP). These programs provide resources for states and local communities to provide downpayment assistance, home renovation, rental assistance and development. The budget does make provisions to continue the FHA mortgage insurance program. In addition, the budget cuts nearly $1 billion from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), including:
$190 million in federal funding for flood maps. According to NAR, without adequate flood maps communities and property owners would not know where to insure or build, potentially putting taxpayers on the hook for increased post-disaster financial assistance;
$667 million in FEMA grants for states and local governments to mitigate (elevate, flood proof, relocate, buyout) properties and communities out of harm's way;
a new user fee for NFIP policyholders to "ensure the cost of Government services is not subsidized by taxpayers."
The budget focuses largely on defense spending and border security. Congress is beginning to consider the FY 2018 budget, and will take this proposal into consideration. NAR will work with Congressional appropriators to advocate for adequate funding for programs important to REALTORS ® and homeowners.
Source: Nar.realtor; 3/17/2017
Annual state of the county address
For this year's state of the county address, Adams County Commissioners asked heads of the departments of emergency services, planning and development, information technologies, finance, and tax services to review 2016 and discuss goals and challenges for 2017. Emergency Services Director Warren Bladen said his department handles the 911 center, hazardous materials and emergency management. Bladen reported that the department is upgrading its phone system and hopes residents will be able to text emergencies to the county 911 system by 2018. Director of Planning and Development Sherri Clayton Williams said her department's highlights for 2016 included preservation and the formation of the Adams County Transportation Planning Organization committee. For 2017, the office will assist county municipalities with zoning changes and ordinances. Information Technologies Director Phil Walter reported that the county website was revamped last year and the county also launched the Gettysburg2GoAp in cooperation with the Gettysburg Times. In 2017, the county data center will move from the courthouse to the human services building. Daryl Crum, director of tax services, said his department does much more than collect taxes and issue past due notices. The department is working to assign every Adams County property a uniform parcel identifier that will make it easier to link all related documents to a property and prevent discrepancies.
Source: Gettysburg Times; 3/21/2017
Littlestown adopts academic progress measure
Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) will be the new universal assessment to screen kindergarten to eighth grade students in the Littlestown Area School District (LASD). MAP will be used throughout the school year in order to discover academic strengths and weaknesses. It will replace prior assessments like DIBELS, Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI), Classroom Diagnostic Toll (CDT), Math Computation and Application as universal screeners, but the tests may still be used as probes when they are needed and the PSSA test will still be required. MAP will be administered at the beginning, middle and end of the academic year in math and literacy.
Source: Gettysburg Times; 3/23/2017
Farmers market to open at transit center
The Adams County Farmers Market Association (ACFM) plans to open Saturday and Thursday markets at the Gettysburg Transit Center located at 103 Carlisle Street. According to ACFM board member Kathy Gaskin, moving to the in-town location will provide better accessibility for community members who use programs that increase access to healthy foods. Such programs include doubling the value of Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP) vouchers and others, said Gaskin, who is also executive director of Health Adams County. Markets are planned Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m., both beginning the first week of May. Visit the group's website at www.acfarmersmarkets.org for more information.
Source: Gettysburg Times; 3/23/2017
Closure of Rolling Acres Elementary nears
The 65-year-old Rolling Acres Elementary school in the Littlestown Area School District is slated to close this summer. Built in 1952, the school received two additions – one each in 1972 and 1990. According to Superintendent Christopher Bigger, "We believe the building is insufficient, oversized and does not meet the educational needs of all children, according to two feasibility studies completed in 2011 and 2015." Current students will attend the new Alloway Creek Elementary in the fall and Rolling Acres will be demolished to make way for a new high school sports stadium, if the campus improvement project goes according to plan.
Source: Gettysburg Times; 3/17/2017
York City Human Relations Commission finds new home in West York
The York City Human Relations Commission is tasked with investigating complaints of unlawful discriminatory practices in housing, employment and public accommodations in the city and enforcing the city's anti-discrimination ordinances. For seven years, the commission has borrowed office space from York County. However, the commission was asked to vacate the office in the county administrative center to make room for an expansion at the county's Office of Children, Youth and Families. Now, the commission will operate out of the West York Borough building at 1381 W. Poplar St. after the mayors of both municipalities struck an agreement. The borough had office space on the second floor of its building and will offer it to the commission for free. West York's building is only a block outside of the York City limits and York Mayor Kim Bracey said, "It was a great fit." The commission serves city residents but it also assists county residents in working with the state Human Relations Commission, Bracey said. West York Mayor Sean Mauck said he hopes the partnership between the city and borough could lead to more cooperation between other municipalities in the county to provide more and better services. The West York Borough Council will now look to adopt antidiscrimination ordinances similar to those in the city, and Mauck said he expects West York residents to have full representation and participation in the commission, including membership.
Source: York Dispatch & York Daily Record; 3/24/2017
Public comment period open for 2017-2040 York Long Range Transportation Plan
The York Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (YAMPO) has announced the start of the public review and comment period for the draft 2017-2040 Long Range Transportation Plan. The YAMPO Coordinating Committee intends to adopt the new plan on April 27, 2017 at 9 a.m. at the York County Administrative Center. The document is available at the York County Administrative Center during normal business hours or at www.YAMPO.org .
Source: York Daily Record & York Dispatch; 3/18/2017
York County to receive $16M from state for roads
The state Department of Transportation will distribute more than $16 million to York County municipalities in 2017 to help maintain roads and bridges, according to a PennDOT news release. The money is from $466.2 million in liquid-fuel payments PennDOT will distribute throughout the state. The allocations help pay for expenses such as snow removal and road maintenance and are based on a municipality's population and miles of locally maintained roads.
Source: York Dispatch; 3/7/2017
Dover Area School District approves architect for proposed building project
Dover Area School District board members have chosen Crabtree Rohrbaugh and Associates to design a new high school. The district began looking into building a new high school after overcrowding concerns that led in part to Washington Township's petition to the state Department of Education to transfer its residing students to Northern Area School District. Earlier this month, a special committee voted to keep the students in the school district. Board members stressed that the proposed plan is exploratory and not an official plan. The proposal calls for the current high school building to be used as the district's middle school and then demolish the current Dover Area Intermediate School.
Source: York Dispatch; 3/24/2017