City of Bradford Seeks Options to Reduce the Property Tax Burden

Source: PA Economy League

The small city of Bradford is the urban hub of rural McKean County, struggling to provide robust full-time police and fire services often used at no cost by neighboring communities that have neither.

Bradford is poorer than its neighbors and its residents pay higher property taxes. The city, one of eight case studies in PEL’s new report, It’s Not 1965 Anymore, is over-reliant on real estate taxes that still can’t keep up with expenses that grow with inflation.

Among the city’s issues:

  • Steady population loss that has reduced the number of residents by more than half since 1930.
  • Blight from housing stock that often dates to pre-1939 construction.
  • Stagnant market and assessed values that produce little to no natural growth in property tax revenue.
  • A high number of non-profit institutions not subject to property taxes.

Among other reforms, Bradford City Manager Chris Lucco supports allowing more municipalities to use the modern payroll tax rather than the outdated business privilege/mercantile tax. Only Act 47 distressed municipalities can access the payroll tax, which has proven lucrative for Pittsburgh.

Read It’s Not 1965 Anymore: State Tax Laws Fail to Meet Municipal Revenue Needs It’s Not 1965 Anymore was funded with the generous support of the Pennsylvania Municipal League.