While officials in many municipalities in rural Pennsylvania are increasing taxes to preserve open space, officials in West Sadsbury Township in Chester County want to axe their tax.
The township is asking voters on Election Day whether they favor the continued imposition of the open space earned income tax. A “yes” vote will keep the 0.70% tax rate as is. A “no” vote will have the tax repealed.
“We’re doing away with the tax effectively because we no longer need the income coming in for open space,” Township Supervisor Ed Haas said.
The three West Sadsbury Township supervisors voted unanimously in July to authorize the filing of a referendum on the potential repeal of the open space tax.
The township enacted the tax many years ago as a way to generate funds to protect and preserve open space.
“We’ve had the tax for a while. It’s generated enough income. We purchased a large piece of property in the township — the Jim Landis Woodland Preserve — many years ago. And that was what the money was being used for. We now have enough money in the coffers to pay off our debt that we have on that property,” Haas said. “So we’re no longer going to maintain the open space tax because most of the land that can be preserved in the township has been preserved.”
Home to more than 2,700 residents, West Sadsbury sits on the western border of Chester County.
Open space has been a major priority in rural farm country. The township’s website says that “through the establishment of Agricultural Security Areas and the use of Conservation Easements, large expanses of irreplaceable farmland and open space have been protected from development and preserved for future generations.”
There is also a referendum for Westtown Township residents as they look to save the historic Crebilly Farm via a proposed open space tax.