Facing $4.9M Deficit, York City Schools Still Looking To Grow

Map of , United States Public School Districts

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

Required to adopt a balanced budget by June 30, York City School District officials are cobbling together a proposal with two major pieces of the financial puzzle missing.

First, it’s still unclear whether New Hope Academy Charter School will be forced to close — a scenario that could send an influx of students and money to the district.

And, the teacher’s union has not agreed to new collective-bargaining agreement with the district, which adopted a financial recovery plan that depends significantly on workforce savings achieved through wage and benefits reductions during the next five years.

Nonetheless, district administrators are proposing to move forward with plans to add and expand programs.

Read more:  http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_25520609/facing-4-9m-deficit-york-city-schools-still

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Auditor General: Reading School District’s Efforts To Fix Problems ‘Ridiculous’

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

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

Eight months ago, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale lambasted the Reading School District.

In an audit report that he called the worst ever of a school district in Pennsylvania, he derided the district’s leadership, financial management and ability to provide students with a quality education. He said if things didn’t change quickly, there would be a more than strong chance the state would take the district over.

On Friday, DePasquale was back in town to provide an update. The story wasn’t much better.

“It is, again, not a pretty picture,” he said during a press conference at the Reading State Office Building.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20140118/NEWS/301189948#.Utqg8PQo6c8

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Scranton Wants To Declare Bankruptcy

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

SCRANTON, PA — When Detroit filed for bankruptcy, hundreds of residents took to the streets to protest what they saw as a drastic approach to fixing the city’s budget problems.

But in this hilly town of 76,000 in northeastern Pennsylvania, residents have a different view of Chapter 9: They want the city to declare bankruptcy. And soon.

“The silent majority would like to see bankruptcy,” said Bob “Ozzie” Quinn, president of the Scranton and Lackawanna County Taxpayers Association. “Basically, it’s down to a point where people cannot afford to pay the taxes and are moving out of town.”

Faced with a $20 million deficit, Scranton had to do some tricky maneuvering to balance its budget and avoid defaulting on loans. Most of this maneuvering has involved increasing taxes and fees paid by the people who still live in the town, which has seen its population drop by half since the 1930s.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140111/scranton-wants-to-declare-bankruptcy

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Early Allentown School Budget Focuses On Hefty Layoffs, Tax Hike

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

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

If there was any doubt that the Allentown School District will impose layoffs as itgrapples with a $10.6 million shortfall next year, those doubts were all but erased tonight.

The school board considered a preliminary budget that could be described — officials hope — as a worst-case scenario: a $6.1 million cut to salaries, and a 9 percent property tax increase.

Those will almost certainly change by the time the final budget is passed in June. A preliminary budget is required this month by state law, and it must be balanced, so the district includes cuts to satisfy that deadline and then changes them later.

But if the $6.1 million salaries cut stays in place, with a district average salary of $65,000, it could mean at least 94 jobs getting eliminated, school union President Debra Tretter said.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/01/early_allentown_school_budget.html#incart_m-rpt-1

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10 Years Later, Is Pittsburgh Really Climbing Out Of The Red?

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ten years and four months ago, then-Mayor Tom Murphy stood before a cadre of media to deliver grim news.

By the time he stepped up to speak, eyes moistened with tears, Pittsburgh city government had been sputtering along like an airplane held together by duct tape, according to a former finance director. But now the plane was about to take a nose dive — with the possibility of bankruptcy hovering.

“I hate doing this,” Mr. Murphy told the reporters.

He announced plans to lay off 731 city workers — including police officers — and leave hundreds more positions unfilled. All but six city pools would be drained and closed early — along with 19 recreation centers that were, in many places, critical gathering spots for sports and community events. Later that year, the city’s credit rating would be downgraded, making it the only major American city whose debt was rated “junk.” A fifth of the city’s budget went to pay off old debt.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2013/12/29/10-years-later-is-Pittsburgh-really-climbing-out-of-the-red/stories/201312290057#ixzz2or2K9BKS

Wilkinsburg High School Suffering Teacher Shortage

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

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

Students enrolled in chemistry class at Wilkinsburg High School are being taught by a certified art teacher.

In high school French classes, a certified health and physical education teacher is providing instruction.

Those revelations, which came in the wake of the Dec. 17 school board meeting, astonished new board President Edward J. Donovan.

“I know the way things ought to be. What I don’t know entirely is how much out of whack things are in the way we are now,” said Mr. Donovan, who is a faculty member and program director of the Chatham University‘s department of education.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2013/12/26/Wilkinsburg-High-students-learning-chemistry-from-art-teacher-using-Web-Wilkinsburg-High-suffers-teacher-shortage/stories/201312260158#ixzz2obYT2brX

First-Class Stamps To Cost 49 Cents As Of January 26, 2014

USPS service delivery truck in a residential a...

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

WASHINGTON — Mailing a letter is about to get a little more expensive.

Regulators on Tuesday approved a temporary price hike of 3 cents for a first-class stamp, bringing the charge to 49 cents a letter in an effort to help the Postal Service recover from severe mail decreases brought on by the 2008 economic downturn.

Many consumers won’t feel the price increase immediately. Forever stamps, good for first-class postage whatever the future rate, can be purchased at the lower price until the new rate is effective Jan. 26.

The higher rate will last no more than two years, allowing the Postal Service to recoup $2.8 billion in losses. By a 2-1 vote, the independent Postal Regulatory Commission rejected a request to make the price hike permanent, though inflation over the next 24 months may make it so.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131225/first-class-stamps-to-cost-49-cents-as-of-jan-26

Hazleton City Shutdown Looms Over Deficit

Downtown Hazleton, PA

Downtown Hazleton, PA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HAZLETON, PA — About 50 of the city’s 110 employees might be furloughed as early as Monday and the city is in danger of defaulting on its bills because of a $500,000 budget deficit.

At a press conference Monday, Mayor Joe Yannuzzi unveiled the latest in a string of the city’s financial woes that started last year when it had to raise the real estate tax by 45 percent. As it stands, non-essential employees — primarily office personnel and some public works employees — will not show up for work Monday and City Hall will be closed.

Firefighters and police will work regular shifts and road crews will still plow snow from the streets, Yannuzzi said.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1010850/Hazleton-city-shutdown-looms-over-deficit

Scranton Landlords, Homeowners And Renters Brace For Tax Hikes

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

University of Scranton students Bridget McVeigh and Ashley Opalka are apartment hunting with two criteria in mind: proximity to campus and lower prices than the university’s dorms.

The pair were alarmed city landlords are poised to hike rents in response to a proposed 2014 Scranton budget that would raise property taxes 56.7 percent, garbage fees 68.5 percent and rental registration fees from $50 to $150 per structure and $15 to $50 per unit.

Landlord Carol Smurl said she tries “to be compassionate to the tenants because they’re on a fixed income,” but she and her husband cannot afford to absorb that kind of increase.

Normally, Mrs. Smurl waits until tenants move out to raise the rent or tries to delay passing increased costs on for two to three years at her nine properties.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-landlords-homeowners-and-renters-brace-for-tax-hikes-1.1590772

Daniel Boone SD Looks At Drastic Measures – Again

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

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

There were no shocked gasps or yelling this time when Dr. Gary L. Otto, Daniel Boone School District superintendent, went through the proposed cuts to balance the 2014-15 budget.

In fact, when it came time for public comment during Wednesday’s school board finance committee meeting, only three residents from the crowd of 50 asked questions, none of which was specifically about the list of cuts.

That’s because the big reveal was nothing new.

The list of potential cuts is almost a carbon copy of what the board discussed during the budget process last year.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519157

Facing 4.3% Tax Hike, Pottstown Working To Close $330K Budget Deficit

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — The public got its first look at the proposed $38.3 million borough budget for 2014 on Wednesday night and saw a projected deficit of more than $330,000 — the rough equivalent of a 4.3 percent property tax increase.

Finance Director Janice Lee made the budget presentation, but did not identify how the administration will propose to close the deficit, which her presentation spreadsheet pegged more specifically at $332,308.

Other than a property tax increase, options for closing that budget gap could include additional revenue from other sources or decreased expenses.

Asked after the meeting how much of a tax hike would be needed to close that gap, Lee declined to speculate and noted that the administration has not yet made a recommendation to borough council, whose members listened to the budget presentation Wednesday night but asked no questions.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131107/facing-43-tax-hike-pottstown-working-to-close-330k-budget-deficit

Reading School District Running Deficit Of Nearly $1 Million

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

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

Four months into the 2013-14 fiscal year, the Reading School District is already running at a nearly $1 million deficit, the school board learned Monday night.

Robert Peters, chief financial officer, presented the board with a status update on the 2013-14 budget at a committee of the whole meeting.

He said unexpected increases in expenses and decreases in revenues have the district facing a $952,000 deficit.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=517608

Clarion To Suspend Programs, Cut Jobs To Close $8 Million Deficit

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Clarion County

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

Clarion University of Pennsylvania on Monday announced it will suspend two degree programs, eliminate 42.75 positions and launch several new programs in an effort to plug an $8 million budget deficit that could balloon to $12 million by 2015.

University President Karen Whitney said the moves are designed to position the state-owned university for the future following several years of sharp declines in enrollment and state subsidies.

“At the forefront of this plan is for our students to graduate and succeed in their professional careers, thanks to the marketable skills they learn at Clarion,” Whitney said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/4960880-74/education-clarion-programs#ixzz2j2581ntI
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Montco Urged To Sell Nursing Care Complex For $39M

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN, PA — A “working group” of senior county staff is recommending the sale of Montgomery County’s Parkhouse Providence Pointe nursing care complex to a Maryland-based company.

While no action has yet been taken regarding the proposed Parkhouse transaction, the Montgomery County commissioners are entertaining the idea of selling the facility to a private firm, Mid-Atlantic Health Care LLC, for $39 million.

The nine-member working group is composed of senior staff from the Department of Aging and Adult Services, the county planning commission and Parkhouse Providence Pointe administrators. Of 10 respondents, all members of the group vouched Tuesday for Mid-Atlantic as the outstanding applicant to the request for proposals the county issued in June.

As part of an overall review of all county enterprises, about 200 acres of land at Parkhouse near Royersford could be put on the block. This sale, however, would exclude the newly-zoned open space across from Route 113, the home to more than 1,700 unmarked graves, some dating back to the early part of the 19th century.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131011/montco-urged-to-sell-nursing-care-complex-for-39m

PEL: Scranton Faces $20 Million Deficit Next Year; Needs To Raise Taxes

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Scranton city government’s budget outlook for next year continues to worsen as the city now faces a possible deficit of nearly $20 million for 2014, according to the city’s financial-recovery coordinator.

That state-appointed Act 47 coordinator, Pennsylvania Economy League, also urges the city to craft a “realistic and responsible” budget for next year that closes the structural deficit and lists as options unspecified hikes in both the real-estate (property) and earned-income (wage) taxes, and an increase in the city’s annual garbage fee.

“I think the letter speaks for itself,” Mr. Cross said in a phone interview. “It shows where the city is in terms of recovery-plan progress and shows the challenges that we always spoke of for 2014 being a challenging year.”

Read the letter here

City Business Administrator Gina McAndrew said the 2014 budget is in the works. She would not rule out any increases in taxes or fees but declined to say what may be under consideration.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/pel-scranton-faces-20-million-deficit-next-year-needs-to-raise-taxes-1.1566385

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

East Strousdburg University Considers Cuts In Staff, Programs

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Monroe County

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

Facing a potential $7.6 million operating deficit, East Stroudsburg University officials say faculty and program cuts could be looming.

They will have a better idea once the university’s 2013-14 budget is finalized, said Kenn Marshall, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, which oversees the 14-state-owned universities, including ESU.

Student tuition and fees account for about three-quarters of ESU’s revenue, but calculating true enrollment figures isn’t straightforward, Marshall said.

During the first few weeks of classes, students can drop out or enroll late.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/esu-considers-cuts-in-staff-programs-0915-20130915,0,5311635.story#ixzz2f0sxuRWX
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Edinboro University Wants To Cut 42 Faculty, 5 Majors

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Erie County

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

EDINBORO, PAEdinboro University wants to cut more than 50 staff, including 42 professors, and eventually eliminate five majors due to declining enrollment and a resulting projected budget deficit.

The announcement comes a month after Clarion University announced plans to cut up to 40 jobs, including 22 faculty, and suspending music education, German and French courses.  The schools are two of 14 that comprise the State System of Higher Education. Kutztown University is one of the 14.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=510618

Cleaning Up Steve Reed’s Mess: Harrisburg’s Debt Plan Expected To Be Filed Today

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

Cleaning up former Mayor Steve Reed’s mess is going to take more than just a solution to his incinerator debt.

Harrisburg‘s state-appointed Receiver has said he hopes to file sometime today his plan to eliminate the city’s bad debt through the sale of the incinerator and a long-term lease of parking assets.

While the more than $360 million in unpayable debt at the incinerator is the root of why the city is in receivership, whatever plan is put forward has to account for much more than that.

Why?

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/08/harrisburg_debt_plan_cleaning.html#incart_m-rpt-2

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