Officials to also open bids on $600K road improvement project

WYSOX TOWNSHIP - At their most recent meeting, the Wysox Township supervisors voted to advertise a proposed ordinance that would require that every business in the township obtain a mercantile license from the township.

In addition, the township supervisors discussed a planned $600,000 project which, according to Supervisor Gary Foster, would fix up a lot of roads in the township. The supervisors will be opening bids for the road project on July 9.

The establishment of a township mercantile license is a way of keeping track of which businesses are in the township and making sure that the township is receiving all of the tax revenue it should be from local businesses, said township secretary/zoning officer Kurt Lafy.

The establishment of a mercantile license will also help the township "with respect to zoning issues," township solicitor Jonathan Foster Sr. said.

The proposed ordinance requires that all businesses that are located in the township register with the township every three years, at which time they must pay a $25 registration fee and supply the township with certain information, such as how many employees they have, whether the employees are full-time or part-time, and the nature of their business, Lafy said.

If the fee is paid and the information supplied is considered by the township to be complete and accurate, then the business will be issued a mercantile license, which will be valid for three years, Lafy said.

The license gives the business the right to operate in the township, he said.

Non-profit organizations must also obtain a mercantile license, too, although non-profits will not have to pay the $25 registration fee, Foster said.

Information about the number of employees a business has will be forwarded to Berkheimer & Associates, which collects the township's local earned income tax, to make sure the township is receiving a local earned income tax from every employee who should be paying that tax to the township, Lafy said.

Lafy explained that there are a lot of gas related businesses in the township, and if they have an employee working in the township who comes from a state that doesn't have an income tax, the employee must pay the local earned income tax to the township.

"There is a potential to get more local earned income tax dollars" because the township might identify additional local workers who ought to be paying the local earned income tax to the township, Lafy said.

Likewise, the township could increase its revenue from the local services tax (LST) through the establishment of the mercantile license and identifying additional workers who should be paying the LST, he said.

Providing information about the nature of a business, such as whether it is a retail store, a gas station, or an auto repair shop, is "terribly important," Lafy said.

"A lot of (businesses) come in (to the township and then) change what they are doing," he said.

If the nature of a business has changed, so that what is taking place on the property is not allowed in the business' zoning district, then the business would need to apply for a variance from the Wysox Township Zoning Hearing Board, Lafy said. A variance would also be needed if a business has added a use that is not allowed in the business' zoning district, he said.

The supervisors plan to adopt the ordinance at their July 9 meeting, so that the ordinance would go into effect on Oct. 1.

Businesses will then have three months to register with the township, township solicitor Jonathan Foster Sr. said.

This year, the township will give businesses a financial break. Specifically, if businesses register by the Dec. 31 deadline, they will not have to pay the $25 registration fee, Foster said.

However, if they miss the Dec. 31 deadline, they will be required to pay the $25 fee, he said.

In three years, businesses will need to register again, at which time the $25 registration fee will be due, he said.

In the past, the supervisors had discussed requiring businesses to pay the $25 fee each year, but the supervisors no longer intend to impose a $25 annual fee.

"We've moved away from that (a requirement of a $25 annual fee)" because the township is not in a financial position where it needs to collect the $25 fee each year, Foster said.

Businesses that fail to obtain a mercantile license would be subject to fines of up to $600 per violation, Lafy said.

Road improvements

The road improvement project is "huge," Lafy said.

The project includes repaving, the installation of guardrail, and other improvements, he said.

Among the streets where repaving would take place are Lundy Drive, Vine Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue, Lafy said.

A total of 2,590 linear feet of guardrail would be installed on Fall Run Road, Red Rock Road and Hillside Drive, he said.

Other work would be done on other roads, including Emory, Allen, Glen, and Claverack roads, he said.

Property maintenance

The Wysox Township supervisors will consider enacting a property maintenance ordinance, the chairman of the supervisors said.

The issue was raised at the supervisors' most recent meeting by township resident Dorothy Shapiro, who noted that Wysox Township officials had been quoted in The Daily Review as saying that they could not rectify the pothole problem at the Bradford Towne Center, due to the fact that there is no property maintenance ordinance in place.

Kulick cited some additional reasons for a property maintenance ordinance, namely several properties that he has seen with excessively high grass and another property where the bushes extend way out into a roadway.

"We will consider" enacting a property maintenance ordinance, "and we'll hopefully put something in motion (toward achieving the enactment of the ordinance)," Kulick said.

At their next meeting, which takes place at 7 p.m. on July 9, the Wysox Township supervisors will vote on passing the ordinance that would establish the mercantile license.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.