Spread The Mustard - Adams County Tax Reassessment Activism

Spread The Mustard . com

No Tax should have the power to leave you homeless


Locally Hosted

Adams Realty Trends
ACEDC Protective Covenants
Training Manual for County Commissioners
FACT now
Pennsylvania Reassessment Law
Pa Legislature Newsletter (excerpt)
Contract between Adams County & 21st Century
21st Century Fee Schedule
Reassessment Q&A's
Legal Statute
Clifton vs Allegheny Legal decision (6mb)
Carroll Valley Recent Sales of Vacant Lots
Carroll Valley Comps
Assessed Land Values per Square Foot
Reassessment Board Guidelines
2010 Adams County Millage Chart
Outbuilding Comparisons
Estimate Your Projected Taxes
Contact Me
Contact Your Representative
File a Complaint

C & G Links

Clean & Green Tools
Meet Richard Sanderson

Third Party

People's Voice Adams
GIS Mapping
Pennsylvania State Tax Equalization Board Website
Adams County
Calculate Your Taxes
Court of Common Pleas Rules
Court of Common Pleas Form
Homestead/Farmstead Exclusions
The Common Man
AssessLaw - FAQ's
Tax Prof's Blog
Pennsylvania needs Assessment Fix
Pa Court Weighs Tax Assessments
Pennsylvania Real Estate Tax Assessment Appeals in Distressed Real Estate Markets
Pennsylvania Judge Strikes Down Property Tax System
Standard on Mass Appraisal - IAAO

Click on Picture for more fun!

Pretty Farm #1 | Pretty Farm #2 | Pretty Farm #3 | Pretty Farm #4 | Pretty Farm #5 | Pretty Farm #6 |Pretty Farm #7 | Pretty Farm #8 | Pretty Farm #9 | Pretty Farm #10 | Pretty Farm #11 | Pretty Farm #13 | Pretty Farm #14

Letter to the Editor

Posted 6/28/15


Thankfully, there are some who recognize the importance of what I've done the last few years. I've had nothing to gain personally, but "did it for the team". Thank you Mr. Escalera for your kind words and support.


Thanks to My Supporters!

Posted 06/07/15


The Primary is history and although I didn't do well overall, I did well close to home. The message I've been sharing has grown and will continue to spread. Meanwhile the county has begun to realize the fruits of my labors as it has begun collecting long-overdue back-taxes on properties that do not meet the land-use granted unto them. Although it's a start, we have a LONG way to go before all land in the county is finally categorized and taxed appropriately. I have a lot of things I need to do and little time to do it. I will stay the course and be true to the residents of Adams County. Meanwhile, I need help in keeping our Officials' feet to the fire. Stay steadfast and ask questions. God Bless you all!


Debate Rebuttal & A Prediction!!

Posted 4/12/14


The Republican Debate was held Thursday 4/9/14 and was mediated by Alex Hayes, Editor of the Gettysburg Times. Mediation certainly seemed tilted in favor of the incumbents as they continuously went over the allowable speaking time without interruption from the mediator. All in all it wasn't a bad showing by any of the candidates. I was nervous early on, but woke up out of my slumber as the debate waged on, much to the dismay of Commissioner Phiel. We sparred mostly on my failed litigation regarding the Clean & Green Program. He says my opinion is my opinion, and it differs from others. I say I base my opinion based on the written law (which he apparently has not read) and Court cases that have been tried, regarding the Clean & Green Law. Mr. Phiel is also entitled to his opinion, but I think he is getting poor legal advice or he is convinced that he has the authority to change the interpretation of the law, which by the way...only those that make the law, can change the law.


Mr. Phiel says that his re-enactments on public subsidized land are allowed under the agritainment clause. This is what the agritainment clause states:

Agritainment activities are defined as farm-related tourism or farm-related entertainment activities that are permitted or authorized in return for a fee on agricultural land for recreational or educational purposes. The term includes, but is not limited to corn mazes, hay mazes, farm tours and hayrides.

Alright, so a re-enactment has nothing to do with the farm. Maybe we're getting technical here. Let's look at another portion of the law:

  • The Chief Assessor is the only person who has approved C&G applications since 1991.

  • This authority rests solely with the County Board of Assessment Appeals as established by those who create the laws, the Pennsylvania Legislature [72 P.S. 5490.4.(a)].

  • The Chief Assessor has no authority granted unto her, to grant preferential tax abatements to Adams County's estimated 4600 enrolled Clean & Green parcels.

  • Since the Chief Assessor has not been granted express consent for such authority, no authority therefore exists.

  • Since no authority exists for the Chief Assessor to grant preferential assessments under the Clean & Green Program, all lands that have been receiving such tax abatements have been receiving them without legal authority.

Since the land hosting the re-enactments has never been officially approved by the ONLY legal authority authorized to do so, then the land cannot meet the criteria as follows:

..."the recreational activity performed does not render the land incapable of being immediately converted to agricultural use on agricultural use land and does not permanently render the land incapable of producing timber or other wood products on forest reserve land".

Re-enactments typically occur during the first week of July; the height of the growing season. Ok, so it doesn't render the land incapable of immediately being converted to agricultural use (but it surely interferes with it). That is...IF  it was producing an agricultural commodity to begin with. We'll never know, because the County doesn't require any proof of an agricultural commodity. And, that is the damn shame! When an ordinary person (not in the C&G Program) goes to appeal their assessed value, they are required to PROVE their stance that their property is valued less than the assessed value. Seems to be two different standards here, which is against the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Consider also:

137b.72. Direct commercial sales of agriculturally related products and activities; rural enterprises incidental to the operational unit.

(a) General. An owner of enrolled land may apply up to 2 acres of enrolled land toward direct commercial sales of agriculturally related products and activities, or toward a rural enterprise incidental to the operational unit, without subjecting the entirety of the enrolled land to roll-back taxes and interest, if both of the following apply to the commercial activity or rural enterprise:

(1) The commercial activity or rural enterprise does not permanently impede or otherwise interfere with the production of an agricultural commodity on the remainder of the enrolled land.

(2) The commercial activity is owned and operated by the landowner or persons who are Class A beneficiaries of the landowner for inheritance tax purposes, or by a legal entity owned or controlled by the landowner or persons who are Class A beneficiaries of the landowner for inheritance tax purposes.

(b) Roll-back taxes and status of preferential assessment. If a tract of 2-acres-or-less of enrolled land is used for direct commercial sales of agriculturally related products and activities, or toward a rural enterprise incidental to the operational unit, the 2-acre-or-less tract shall be subject to roll-back taxes and interest, and preferential assessment of that 2-acre-or-less tract shall end. The remainder of the enrolled land shall continue under preferential assessment as long as that remainder continues to meet the requirements for eligibility in section 3 of the act (72 P. S. 5490.3).

(c) Inventory by county assessor to determine ownership of goods. A county assessor may inventory the goods sold at the business to assure that they are owned by the landowner or persons who are class A beneficiaries of the landowner for inheritance tax purposes, or by a legal entity owned or controlled by the landowner or persons who are Class A beneficiaries of the landowner for inheritance tax purposes, and that the goods meet the requirements of this section.

Neither Mr. Phiel, nor his partners are owners of said land or Class A beneficiaries; the re-enactments take place on MUCH MORE than two acres; AND said activity interferes with the production the agricultural commodity, assuming there is/was some.

Commissioner Martin alleges the litigation filed by me cost the county a lot of money. Well, it didn't have to! All you needed to do is follow the law and in the process regain a lot of lost/forfeited tax revenue. 

I just cannot fathom why the administration is so hell-bent on resisting leveling the playing field, so everyone is treated fairly and equitably, as they all campaigned for last time. Does being elected somehow make you go bonkers and lose your morality?

Oops, almost forgot my prediction. This one has to do with TIF. I predict, that the Tax Increment Financing decision has already been made, and their decision will be levied AFTER the election...in FAVOR of the TIF for Discovery. Remember, you heard it here, first.

One more thing. At the end of the debate, I offered my hand to Mr. Phiel, who rejected the overture. I won't go into what he said, or my reply, but I offered and he rejected.

That's all for now...

Letter To My Friends & Supporters

Posted 03/08/15


Dear Friends & Supporters,

                Most of you are aware of the immense battles that I have waged with Adams County Officials in my quest to bring truth, transparency and justice to our quaint county. I have fought long and hard to attain tax fairness and helped to give each of you the tools to fight your assessed property values after a horrid, county-wide reassessment through my politically incorrect (yet, brutally honest) website, www.spreadthemustard.com. The struggle commenced in 2010 and after devoting thousands of hours of research into county affairs, tax law, and assessment data. It is my opinion, that our County of Adams practices a complex, sophisticated, and extensive scheme of real property tax assessment tactics that is unfair and unlawful, depending on what real property you possess. The Pennsylvania Constitution requires that all of us be taxed equally and a Pennsylvania Statute requires that a strict construction of the law be applied (regarding taxation) to each and every real property owner.

                After failing to correct the issues through litigation, I have decided that I must run for office to bring about the changes that need to take place, to bring tax fairness to each and every  real property owner in Adams County. The Judicial system summarily dismissed my litigation due to improper filings and lack of standing. I filed pro se (without legal counsel) and was certain to make amateurish pleadings as it was my first foray into the legal arena. As for the lack of standing, the Court ruled that I was not harmed more than anybody else, so I lacked standing. That is akin to saying that if I suffered a black eye due to a government agent, I was not harmed by that government agent, as long as everyone else in my class, also suffered a black eye. It is important to note that the Court never rejected nor disputed, the reams of evidence, exhibits, and/or legal arguments, in my filings.  

                The Supreme Court has ruled that the size of the affected interest is not important ‐ in fact, "an identifiable trifle is enough for standing".  The Court went on to give further support to diffuse interests by declaring that "to deny standing to persons who are in fact injured simply because many others are also injured, would mean that the most injurious and widespread government actions could be questioned by nobody". You need to read that last sentence again and consider the ramifications.  

                To have the best chance to be successful, I need your help. As you can presume, those with the deepest pockets, get the most exposure, and are most likely to have the best chance of success.  

                Campaign Law does NOT require me to form a PAC (Political Action Committee) in order to run for office, and I do not intend to do so. Campaign Law allows me to use a personal account to accept contributions and make payments for expenditures. I have set up a separate personal account to make it easy to track such activity. IF, I receive more than $250 in contributions or incur more than $250 in expenditures in any reporting period, I must file a Campaign Finance Report for the period in which I did so. On March 6, 2015, I signed a waiver saying I do not anticipate meeting the $250 threshold, because at that time I had not incurred any. However, I do expect to exceed $250 in expenditures at least one time, so I will need to file a report for at least that period. As of signing the waiver on March 6, 2015, I had not received anything in contributions, primarily because you (my supporters) did not know how or where to send those contributions. Essentially, by signing the waiver, I only have to file Campaign Finance Reports for those reporting periods I exceed $250 in contributions and/or expenditures. 

                I have never asked anything of my readers and/or supporters other than to keep an open mind and make your own educated and informed decisions on the facts that I presented you, and I tried very hard to make sure I had convincing evidentiary exhibits to present, to inform you properly. 

                I am not the typical political candidate and never will be, as my soul (and/or vote) is not for sale.  It is difficult to ask you for anything, as I've come this far mostly as a lone wolf. I never wanted to drag anyone else through this ugly ordeal of presenting the truth, as it had to be told. I never wanted to subject anyone else to the aggravation and emotional trauma of being rejected and demonized. I took all the burden of being cast as a "rabble-rouser" upon my shoulders, for the benefit of all Adams Countians. Now comes the hard part as I am humbling myself to ask you to make a contribution to my cause, to bring about change in Adams County. 

                I will keep track of every contribution (of any denomination) sent to me, and am legally required to report on my Campaign Finance Report, any donation of $50.01 or more. Any period that I receive in excess of $250 in contributions, or incur more than $250 in expenditures, I am required by law to file a Campaign Report which I fully intend to do. As of this writing (3/8/15), I have not met, or exceeded, that limit in any fashion. 

                For contributions:

  1. (over) $250 - I must report on my Campaign Finance Report the full name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer (if any), or the principal place of business (if self-employed), of each person who has made one or more contributions to me in any reporting period that meet or exceed this total, together with the amount and date of such contributions. The accuracy of information furnished to the candidate shall be the responsibility of the contributor.

2. (over) $50 - I must report on my Campaign Finance Report the full name, mailing address of each person who has made one or more contributions to the candidate within the reporting period that meet or exceed this total, together with the amount and date of said contributions.


3.  (over) $10 - I must record the names and addresses of the contributors, but they will not be listed individually on the Campaign Finance Report. These contributions will be tallied as the total sum of individual contributions made to the candidate during a reporting period that are not reported under clauses (1) and (2) above. 

So, using the information provided above, please consider the amount you would like to contribute and you may send those contribution(s) to: 

Bruce Hollinger

1 Birch Trail

Fairfield, Pa. 17320-9322


Thank You for Your Support!




Bruce Hollinger

Candidate for Adams County Commissioner



Posted 3/1/15


Spent the weekend doing some politicking....getting out and meeting folks, gathering signatures for my Nomination Petition. I found it to be very enjoyable talking with the folks who all were very approachable and kind. I kind of liked it and look forward to doing more of it. They seemed very receptive of me and wanting to know more. I am also very flattered that some Dems have even vowed to change parties to be able to vote for me. Now, THAT'S dedication! Just a reminder to Dems, that you can still write me in on your ticket in the Primary, if you'd like.


At the "State of the County" meeting, I asked two, $10 million dollar questions. First I wanted to know what happened to the approximately $10 million dollars we received from the sale of the nursing home, and secondly I wanted to know how much we actually exercised of the $10 million dollar line of credit we received. The County Manager informed me that we still have approximately $6.1 million in the General Fund from the sale of the nursing home and have exercised roughly $2 million against the line of credit. For those keeping score, that's a negative $4 million from the nursing home funds and a negative $2 million against the line of credit, across three years. That's a total of being $6 million down across three years of budgets. That sounds to me like there's a hole in the budget to the tune of approximately $2 million/year. That's not including the 10% tax increase across those same three years. And, they want us to believe, they've done a good job with the budgets?


One of my readers submitted the following information. Adams County became a 5th Class County after the 2010 census. It was then, we were required by law to have a Controller. Since we added a Controller, we kept the Finance Department intact, as well. Through Right To Know Requests, this reader determined that Adams County has the highest cost, per county resident, to run its Finance Department(s), of all 5th Class Counties. Two of the 5th Class Counties do not have Finance Offices because they've consolidated them under the Controller. According to my reader's submission, Adams spends four times the amount Blair County does, and two times as much as Lebanon and NorthCumberland does on is Finance Offices, per resident. The County should be the ones doing this type of analysis, not average citizens. Hello! Anyone home?


Elect Bruce Hollinger, For County Commissioner

Posted 2/15/15


After years of inquiries, investigation, pleading, and subjecting officials to humor & satire meant to influence them into doing what is right, I concede that it is unlikely they will do what they should do. With that in mind, I have decided to run for office and try to change things from within. Even if I'm successful winning a spot on the Board of Commissioners, I alone, cannot change it all. I will need a willing partner to listen to all the evidence and accept the truth and have the guts to act with me. One vote will not get it done, however, having the chance to get it all on record, is promising.


Do not underestimate my resolve in facing all the issues the County will face in the coming years. I will pore my soul into doing what is right for the county as a whole. Not a small segment of our society, but the entire population.


This site will remain as the not-so-politically-correct site and my new politically correct, election website, will be http://www.electhollinger.com. I need your support to help change the face of Adams County Government. Consider the incumbents were swept into office due to a horrific reassessment and the fact that they have done NOTHING to correct the issue other than to pass an unconstitutional Ordinance to try to "kick the can down the road". Also, they've passed a New Clean & Green Policy that worsens this issue, while financially benefiting one of the sitting Commissioners. Can you say..."conflict of interest"? Also consider that the incumbents increased taxes two times since being in office, to a sum of 10% across three years. How many of you got a raise of 10% over the last three years?


I promise to stand for the common man & woman, not just the rich & powerful. I will weigh the issues as they affect us all, not just a few. The time is now, for change in Adams County! Never, will there be a better chance to change how the local government acts and responds to its constituents. Please keep in mind these important dates:

  • May 19, 2015 - Primary

  • November 3, 2015 - General Election

It is VERY important to get out and vote on these days! For those of you not registered yet, here is the link to get the Voters Registration Form. You MUST be registered 30 days before the election, to be eligible to vote.


Strategy: You will be able to vote for TWO candidates for Commissioner; If there is ONE candidate that appeals to you, that you absolutely want to be elected, than vote only "Once" for that individual. The second vote you cast could put that other candidate in front of your preferable candidate. If you are a Democrat and are voting in the Primary, but a Republican appeals to you, you may "write in" that Republican on your Democratic ticket (or, vice-versa). Otherwise, Republicans will only see the "Republican" candidates and Democrats will only see the "Democratic" candidates on their tickets, in the Primary. I came up with this strategy by watching the video found here. How can it possibly go wrong?  (lol)


Sidenote: If I happen to win a seat on the Board, it certainly proves to be an interesting four years.  :-)


EDIT 2/17/17 - Just learned of Former Commissioner Harry Stokes throwing his hat into the ring for a seat on the Board of Commissioners. Welcome aboard, Mr. Stokes! It seems there's a lot of displeasure with the direction of the county; more than the current Board is willing to admit. I'm secretly hoping you are a Democrat, as we need someone to challenge that side of the ticket.

Inside the Courthouse

The letter(s) displayed below are from Mr. Dave Sprankle Jr, who was MIS Director for Adams County for 14+ years. He has decided to share his thoughts and experiences with all Adams County residents.

Introduction Letter
Right To Know
Courthouse Culture
Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?
IT Operations
Rumor: Word has it that County Employees are not allowed to view this website at the Courthouse, or at home. Sounds like a Nazi is in charge at the Courthouse.


  Web Counters

Web Counter Expert

Older Posts: (older) page 1 | page 2 | page 3 | page 4 | page 5 | page_6 | page 7 | page 8| page 9 | page 10 | page 11 | page 12 | page 13 | page_14 | page_15 | page 16 | page_17 | page_18 | page_19 | page 20 | (newer)

Sedgwick Claims, Mar