HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) – Residents in Hermitage and Wheatland will decide whether or not to merge in November. Wednesday night, the city of Hermitage hosted a public meeting ahead of election day to provide information to voters.
Officials say right now, both municipalities would benefit from the merger, but some are still hesitant.
Research conducted by the Pennsylvania Economic League says that a merger would be beneficial for both Hermitage and Wheatland.
Officials from both municipalities say this is a win-win situation for everyone. However, residents have a few questions, specifically about the school districts and taxes, both of which were addressed at the meeting.
Officials admit, there are still some loose ends that will need to be addressed if the merger passes.
Wheatland Mayor Ron Viglio assures residents that what makes them Wheatland won’t change.
“Anything that deals with the state, the post office, the school district, all of that’s going to stay the same. So, we’re still going to be Wheatland,” he said.
Officials say in the long run, property owners in Wheatland could benefit.
“There would be a significant reduction in property tax,” said Hermitage city manager Gary Hinkson.
But they’d see a slight increase in the income tax.
As for Hermitage residents, they wouldn’t notice many changes short-term from the merger. But long-term…
“It would be nice economically to be able to connect the land and expand,” Viglio said.
Hinkson says the borough land has a lot of potential.
“That would provide an opportunity for future economic growth for the city,” Hinkson said.
After the meeting, some residents are still wondering if they are ready to take this issue to the polls.
“Coming this far after at least one election, they ought to have some of those answers, but they don’t yet,” said Hermitage resident Dewey Lorance.
In order to pass, both municipalities must vote majority yes. If one or neither vote majority yes, the merger does not happen.
If passed, the merger will go into effect in January 2024.
There will be one final meeting to discuss the merger on October 12 at the Wheatland Borough building.