Pick your tax poison in the primary

Most voters, unfortunately, blow off primary elections with the casual ease that clings to apathetic Americans like lint.Berks voters, however, may want to cast their ballots this May. And they may want to be rooted in hypnotic concentration as they do their homework on Act 1 before going to the polls.What the hell is Act 1? Well, it’s not the opening act of a play. But Act 1 does come with its share of high drama. It involves taxes, which enfold all of us in their relentless embrace.Berks County residents could save or lose hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of dollars under tax-shift proposals school boards will present to voters in the May primary. The proposed changes are part of Pennsylvania’s property-tax relief law, or Act 1, which was created to reduce residential property taxes by increasing local income taxes. Supposedly, homeowners with lower incomes would save money; renters and high-income earners would pay more money. Each school district had to appoint a tax-study commission to recommend a tax mix that best suits their community. Now each school board must craft a tax-shift referendum by March 13 so it’s cued up for the May ballot.Taxes, of course, have about as much charm as a strangler’s cord. And there’s no question that the tentacles of property taxes have strangled some folks. Then again, income taxes usually don’t prompt people — with wallets in hand — to do cartwheels of joy. But at least Act 1 does give voters more options and more involvement in how their schools are funded.Then again, there are at least three other options that might work better:1. Let your school district solve its money crunch by robbing a Swiss bank.2. Have Bush hightail it out of Iraq and funnel the billions of dollars spent on the war to local school districts.3. Eliminate public education and let the home-schoolers and private schools pick up the slack (of course, your doorbell then will be ringing constantly as entire regiments of kids peddle candy, magazines and other fundraising goodies).