Local Tax Hikes Add To Burden Around Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At least 11 of Luzerne County’s 76 municipalities are increasing real estate taxes this year, according to statistics compiled by the county treasurer’s office.

These increases are on top of an 8-percent tax hike for all county property owners, which amounts to $42 more on a $100,000 property.

White Haven has the highest percentage increase — 31.6.

The owner of a $100,000 property in the borough will pay $60 more, with a tax bill increasing from $190 last year to $250 in 2014.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1138044/Local-tax-hikes-add-to-burden-around-county

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Pottstown Regional Public Library Funding Rescue May Lie With School Parents

POTTSTOWN PA – Can residents in the Lower Pottsgrove portion of the Pottsgrove School District do what they proved capable of five years ago this month: rescue the Pottstown Regional Public Library by encouraging the township Board of Commissioners to restore proposed funding cuts? The school board’s leader is hoping for it.

The library may literally be banking on it.

A majority of commissioners announced last Monday (Jan. 6, 2014), during their reorganization meeting, that they intended to conduct a Feb. 3 (Monday) hearing in part to consider cutting $10,000 in library funding from the township’s already approved 2014 budget. The library had been allocated to receive a $5,000 increase in Lower Pottsgrove’s contribution, from $60,000 annually in each of the past five years, to $65,000 this year.

The majority last week instead suggested it wants to now lower the donation to $55,000, eliminating the increase and another $5,000 as well. Those commissioners – board President Bruce Foltz, Vice President Stephen Klotz, and new member Shawn Watson – have indicated they would prefer to put more money into the police department and other priorities.

Read more: http://sanatogapost.com/2014/01/13/library-funding-rescue-may-lie-school-parents/

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Frugal California University Of Pennsylvania Cuts Back On Spending, Saves Millions

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Channel-surfing college football fans may notice one area team missing from this fall’s TV lineup.

California University of Pennsylvania decided it no longer could justify spending up to $150,000 a season to produce and broadcast games played by its Division II Vulcans football team — not with classroom cuts looming.

Suddenly frugal Cal U also pared service on its Vulcan Flyer, a shuttle named for the school’s mascot that used to leave campus stops every 10 minutes. Students now wait a bit longer, saving Cal U half a million dollars.

Still more money — another $1.6 million — was recouped by telling campus departments to return unspent money at year’s end, suspending a practice that had let them amass surpluses, even in years that the university tapped reserves to balance its books.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/frugal-california-university-of-pennsylvania-cuts-back-on-spending-saves-millions-706559/#ixzz2h3iK9R1u

Mansfield University Announces Layoffs

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Tioga County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Tioga County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mansfield University plans to cut up to 29 full-time faculty positions and 25 administrative jobs due to a projected $14.3 million shortfall over the next two years, the school said Thursday. It blamed enrollment declines over the past three years and reduced state support.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=514674

Edinboro University Deficit May Force Additional Cuts

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Erie County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Erie County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edinboro University may face additional non-faculty staff and manager cuts this year beyond the 13 already announced to ease a budget deficit shaping up to be greater than the $5.5 million gap previously disclosed, a school spokesman said Friday.

Jeffrey Hileman could not say how much larger the deficit might be, but when asked the difference between the numbers, he said, “It’s not unsubstantial.”

He spoke after Edinboro administrators and faculty union representatives met for 2 1/2 hours to discuss the Operations and Workforce Plan unveiled Tuesday by Edinboro president Julie Wollman, which also recommended eliminating 42 faculty positions.

The plan, like one released at Clarion University a month ago, addresses rising costs, declining enrollment and sharply lower state aid.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/edinboro-deficit-may-force-additional-cuts-703272/#ixzz2ergwa2ze

Postal Service Considers Eliminating Door-To-Door Delivery

USPS service delivery truck in a residential a...

USPS service delivery truck in a residential area of San Francisco, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ve got mail … a block away.

That could be what’s ahead for millions of Americans who still get mail delivered directly to their front doors.

With the U.S. Postal Service losing billions of dollars each year, this tradition could be phased out in less than a decade under a proposal in Congress.

Taking its place would be cluster boxes, mailboxes for individual addresses grouped together at a central neighborhood location.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/883882_Postal-Service-considers-eliminating-door-to-door-delivery.html#ixzz2cMbro8gb

Americans On Food Stamps

English: Logo of the .

English: Logo of the . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The number of people using food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increased by an average of 13 percent a year from 2008 to 2012.  House Republicans dropped funding for food stamps from a new version of the farm bill.  Voting takes place Thursday.  Read related article.

Click here to see map of US with 2012 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation levels by state: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/food-stamps/

Montgomery County Budget Cuts Take A Toll On Community Organizations

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NORRISTOWN — It’s halfway into the year, and some local organizations that received county funds in the past are beginning to feel the effects of the 2013 budget cuts.

County budget cuts are robbing the Montgomery County African American Coalition of its “meat and potatoes” programs, according to charter member Bob Wright.

Three weeks ago, the group met at the First Baptist Church in Cheltenham, where a consortium of representatives from different minority organizations throughout the county, including the local chapter of the NAACP, discussed the budget and how it affects the low- and moderate-income county population.

Among them, Legal Aid, which received $281,7000 from the county general fund in 2012, was initially zeroed out of the budget for fiscal year 2013.

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130707/NEWS01/130709776/montgomery-county-budget-cuts-take-a-toll-on-community-organizations#full_story

Reading School Board Makes Budget Progress

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Slowly toiling away, looking at proposed cuts from every angle imaginable, the Reading School Board inched closer and closer to its members’ goal: a balanced budget they can live with.

Following the board’s voting meeting Wednesday night, members stuck around to pick through the administration’s latest proposed 2013-14 spending plan.

They reviewed a list of 18 cuts one by one, taking straw polls to find out which ones have support and which ones don’t.

And, with two days before they plan to vote on a final budget, they appeared to have finally made some big decisions.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=487596

Reading Area Mail Slowed By Post Office Moves

USPS service delivery truck in a residential a...

USPS service delivery truck in a residential area of San Francisco, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mail delivery has been slowed in the Reading area due to the recent termination of mail processing in the city, but a U.S. Postal Service spokesman said Wednesday that the delays should be temporary.

The mail that used to be processed at the Gus Yatron Postal Facility, 2100 N. 13th St., is now being handled in a Harrisburg facility.

The change was part of the Postal Service’s nationwide cost-cutting efforts, which include the closure of hundreds of mail processing sites.

The Postal Service no longer has the mail volume to justify keeping those facilities open, officials have said.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=485891

Fire Response Time Questioned In Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — While children crawled through the city’s fire safety trailer at Kirby Park eight days ago, a homeowner on Almond Lane waiting for an engine to arrive from across town used a garden hose in an attempt to douse flames.

The fire, started by spontaneous combustion of grass clippings in a plastic recycling container climbed up to the second floor, causing damage inside and out before firefighters extinguished them.

“They got it,” said Greg Freitas, vice president of the city firefighters’ union.

But the damage could have been minimized with more firefighters and equipment available, a long-running sticking point with the International Association of Firefighters Local 104 which has seen the minimum staffing level reduced by more than one-third over a 10-year period.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news//503886/Fire-response-time-questioned-in-W-B

FAA Warns Of 3.5 Hour Flight Delays This Summer

Seal of the United States Federal Aviation Adm...

Seal of the United States Federal Aviation Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Flight delays of up to 3-1/2 hours are expected to occur at some U.S. airports this summer because of furloughs of air-traffic controllers, the top U.S. aviation regulator said on Thursday.

The estimate from the Federal Aviation Administration puts in sharper focus the potential impact of the agency’s decision to furlough 10 percent of its staff starting Sunday as it struggles to meet budget cuts required under so-called sequestration.

The average delay would be much shorter than the 3-1/2 hours, FAA administrator Michael Huerta said in a briefing to reporters, without specifying a figure.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/sns-rt-us-faa-flightdelaysbre93h167-20130418,0,6239558.story

GOP Signals Cost Cuts Before Pennsylvania Driver Tax Boost

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  I bet there are all kinds of cost cutting measures that could be utilized before screwing over the taxpayers!

HARRISBURG – Conservative state lawmakers who are wary about plans to raise taxes or fees to boost transportation spending raised the prospect Wednesday that they will insist first on major changes, such as abolishing the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, to make public money go further.

The House Republican majority will be under pressure in the 10 weeks before the Legislature departs Harrisburg for the summer to make the case against a massive transportation funding plan.  Supporting such plans are leading senators from both political parties, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and a slew of groups from the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry to the AARP.

Even one member of the House Republican leadership acknowledged that there is tremendous pressure on the issue.

“I don’t think we thought there was going to be this much momentum for transportation,” said Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery, the caucus secretary.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=470679

Latrobe Air Traffic Control Tower To Close

250

250 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The air traffic control tower at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe will close, along with 148 others at small airports nationwide, as the Federal Aviation Administration cuts $637 million from its budget by November.

The closures will not force airports to shut down, but pilots will now coordinate takeoffs and landings by radio without ground controllers’ help.

“We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports,” FAA administrator Michael Huerta said in a news release.

Spirit Airlines — which flies out of Latrobe to Dallas, Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Fla. — plans to operate a normal schedule, airline spokeswoman Misty Pinson said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/westmoreland/latrobe-air-traffic-control-tower-to-close-680511/#ixzz2ONMqa1Kx

Reading Regional Airport Tower Won’t Close, For Now

English: Reading Airport, Pennsylvania

English: Reading Airport, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading Regional Airport‘s air traffic control and training tower is not among the 149 air traffic control facilities that the Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday will close at small airports around the country starting next month.

The FAA made the decision on orders to trim hundreds of millions dollars from its budget as part of the sequestration plan.

Laura Brown, FAA spokeswoman, said only federal contract towers were targeted for closing, adding that Reading is an FAA tower that will require negotiations with the air traffic controllers union before any action is taken.

However, she said the FAA has proposed closing the Reading tower.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=463163

Exeter Township Police Chief: ‘We’re At Bare Bones’

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Exeter Township Supervisor Dona L. Starr has dispelled fears that the township is considering reducing its police force to help balance the budget.

“There’s one, two, three, four board members who have never even mentioned laying off police officers,” Starr told a crowd of officers and police supporters at a special budget workshop meeting.  “I believe that the Exeter Township Police Department is the best in the county, and I want to keep it that way.  I’m not willing to lay off any officers.  I’m not willing to make any cuts.”

Starr’s comments at Wednesday’s meeting came after statements by Supervisor Kenneth A. Smith, who said he would not be opposed to reducing the police force to make up a $230,000 shortfall in the 2013 budget.

That number is down from an initial budget gap of about $400,000 in August.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=426255

A More Simplified Way Of Explaining The U.S. Economy/Debt‏

Editor’s note:  This came in my email today and I liked the comparison between the home budget versus the national budget.  I don’t know anybody who would run their household budget the way our government runs the national budget.  I think this applies across the aisle!

This rather brilliantly cuts thru all the political doublespeak we get.  It puts it into a much better perspective.

Lesson # 1:
* U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
* Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
* New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
* National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
* Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000

Let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:
* Annual family income: $21,700
* Money the family spent: $38,200
* New debt on the credit card: $16,500
* Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
* Total budget cuts so far: $3.85

Got It ?????

OK, now Lesson # 2:

Here’s another way to look at the Debt Ceiling:

Let’s say, you come home from work and find there has been a sewer backup in your neighborhood….and your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings.

What do you think you should do ……

Raise the ceilings, or pump out the crap?

Community’s Generosity Helps Ease Crunch At City School

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  The “feel good” story for today :)

Facing a districtwide budget crunch and the melding of two schools into one, teachers at Millmont Elementary School are likely feeling the crunch trying to get ready for the upcoming school year.

But thanks to the generosity of a handful of local businesses, things should be a little easier come opening day.

Merra Lee Moffitt, senior partner at Good Life Financial Group in Wyomissing, led a campaign to collect and donate school supplies to the teachers at Millmont.

“We like being involved in the community and giving back,” she said.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=410378

Boyertown School District Banking On Ads For Revenue

A year ago, Jim Bozzini came before the Boyertown School Board as a parent and taxpayer to suggest a new way for the cash-strapped district to raise money: advertisements.

Now the board is turning to Bozzini, president of School Media Marketing, Gilbertsville, to deliver on his suggestion and solicit advertisements for the district.

The board has approved a three-year contract with Bozzini, the lone bidder, that will give School Media Marketing a 20 percent commission on advertising proceeds.

Officials have estimated $25,000 in first-year profits for the district and say, based on the experience of other districts, that the number could grow to six figures in future years.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=396640

Shuttered Schools Are Costly To Keep But Selling Them Can Be Unprofitable

When a school’s doors are closed for good, a building that cost millions to build can sit vacant and unused for years until it’s sold for a fraction of its worth.

The state of the economy, zoning laws and the institutional makeup of the structures all make schools a hard sell. And as long as the district owns the building, it has to pay for maintenance even if no warm bodies are moving through the hallways.

Doug Haring, a city real estate appraiser, said selling schools has become brutally expensive.

“Everything is a lot harder to do today, and that translates into more expense,” Haring said, referring to stricter zoning laws and municipal building code restrictions.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=396633