Pottstown School Board Leery Of Offer To Refurbish Light Poles

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — Members of the Pottstown School Board showed little interest Thursday in an offer to refurbish the poles that hold up the lights at Grigg Memorial Stadium.

Facilities Director Robert Kripplebauer told the board’s facilities committee meeting Thursday that he had been contacted by a company that had read in The Mercury about the board’s decision to take down the lights at the stadium for safety reasons.

The company — 18th Century Restorations on Coventryville Road — made a similar offer in 2012 and estimated the cost at that time to refurbish the poles and lights to be $60,000.

According to the 2012 quote, which Kripplebauer shared with The Mercury, the work would involve “fabricating new hardware” for the poles and attaching 42 metal straps to keep them in place, as well as epoxy and caulk for cracks in the poles, along with other work.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140411/pottstown-school-board-leery-of-offer-to-refurbish-light-poles

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Easton Police Dominate 2013 List Of Highest-Paid City Employees

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette ...

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eight of the 10 highest-paid Easton city employees last year work for the police department.

Much of their pay came through overtime, although the mayor said the city is doing much better with overtime budgeting.

Sgt. Sal Cucciuffo topped the list for the second year in a row, making $117,524 and topping his 2012 earnings by a little more than $6,800.

The city’s overtime fund has dropped significantly from $460,000 in 2008, down to $260,000 in 2013, Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said. Panto said the city came in under budget on overtime costs in 2013.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2014/03/third_party_soruces_help_with.html

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Pennsylvania Community College Leaders Make Funding Case In Harrisburg

Harrisburg, PA — Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) President Dr. Karen A. Stout testified before the Pa. House Appropriations Committee in Harrisburg on Feb. 20 on the issue of community college funding for Fiscal Year 2014-15. She joined Pa. Commission for Community Colleges (PACCC) President and CEO Elizabeth A. Bolden and Butler County Community College President Dr. Nick Neupauer, who also serves as PACCC’s Board Chairman.

Together the three leaders testified about the critical need for increased operating and capital funding for the Commonwealth’s 14 community colleges. Governor Corbett’s proposed FY 14-15 budget does not include any increase in the community college operating appropriation. If approved, this will be the fourth consecutive year of flat funding in operating following a 10 percent funding cut five years ago. Allowing for inflation, the recommended appropriation is $12 million below the necessary level.

During her testimony, Dr. Stout revealed that, if the proposed budget is passed, MCCC will receive less in operating dollars in FY 14-15 than eight years ago.

“The operating efficiencies used to manage these cuts have already been implemented, and gains from them already realized and exhausted,” she said in her testimony. “Even modest tuition increases are difficult for our students to manage. Last year, we deregistered more than 2,500 students for non-payment. Approximately half return to us at some point, but half are shut out of higher education, even with Pell and PHEAA grants.”

Three MCCC students – Octavia Beyah, Tyler Tucker and Elizabeth Waddell – accompanied Dr. Stout to Harrisburg to lend their support to Pennsylvania’s community colleges.

Beyah, a first-generation college student, is funding her own education. She started her journey at a four-year university, but reverse transferred to MCCC to graduate without debt. Likewise, Tucker chose to attend MCCC to balance life and work to avoid early debt; she aspires to be an appellate court judge. And Waddell comes from a single parent household and acknowledges that education tends to go on the “back burner” when living paycheck to paycheck.

“Students like Octavia, Tyler and Elizabeth build the economic and civic capacity of our community, one dream fulfilled at a time,” shared Dr. Stout in her testimony.

Stout went on to share how the economic impact of MCCC’s students extends to all Pennsylvania residents. For example, taxpayers, see a return rate of 7.2 percent on their investment, and every one dollar of state and local tax money invested in the College yields a cumulative $21.60 in benefits that accrue to all Pennsylvania residents in terms of added taxable income and avoided social costs.

“Fifty years ago, a group of visionary State and local leaders from across the Commonwealth passed the Community College Act, and with it, a commitment to invest in the hopes, dreams and aspirations of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to access affordable, high quality, transfer education and workforce training programs that could lead them into the middle class and thus build the quality of life and civic development and economic competitiveness of Pennsylvania. Over these 50 years, nearly 400,000 Montgomery County residents have benefitted from access to these programs. The ripple effect of those attending – on our community – is multi-generational,” shared Dr. Stout.

In addition to restoring operating funds, Bolden and PACCC asked the House Appropriations Committee for capital funding to be increased in order to address the $726 million in documented infrastructure improvements for the State’s 14 community colleges over the next five years.  As it stands now, the Governor’s proposed budget calls for a $1 million cut in capital.

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Mayor Peduto Puts New Focus On Pittsburgh Public School System

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)

More than a decade ago, the Mayor’s Commission on Public Education called for the Pittsburgh Public Schools board to be appointed by the mayor rather than elected by residents.

That hasn’t happened nor have some of the other recommendations in the 144-page report critical of the district and written during the administration of Tom Murphy in 2003.

In the intervening years, no other mayor or mayor’s commission has tried to take control away from an elected school board or made such sweeping recommendations.

While he hasn’t suggested appointing the school board, Mayor Bill Peduto, sworn in last month, is taking a keen interest in the fate of the school district.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2014/02/17/Peduto-puts-new-focus-on-city-s-school-system/stories/201402170044#ixzz2tbUvxXqU

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Munhall Awaiting Decision On Loan Amid Fiscal Turmoil

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

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

By today’s end, Munhall officials expect to know if private financing for a tax anticipation loan will be available to the borough, averting the need for layoffs of police and public works employees.

Council was forced in recent weeks to advertise for private financing after it could not get a regular bank loan because the borough did not have its annual audits for 2011 and 2012 performed by an independent auditor and filed with the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

That revelation is one of a number of surprises that council members say they’ve faced since Matt Galla abruptly resigned as borough manager June 17. The other surprises include the fact that appropriate pension contributions were not made to employee pension plans in 2011 and 2012, that many borough records, including employees’ salary histories, are gone from the borough offices, and that the borough lost $360,000 in regional asset district funds.

Since June, two interim managers and a certified public accountant have been trying to reconstruct the borough’s records. That reconstruction has shown that Mr. Galla may have paid himself more than his approved $60,000 salary.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2014/02/10/Munhall-awaiting-decision-on-loan-amid-fiscal-turmoil/stories/201402100093#ixzz2swAw1oXw

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett Announces 2014-2015 Budget Plan, Targets Education

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA — Gov. Tom Corbett gave his annual budget address Tuesday, outlining a plan for 2014-2015 that seeks to put a priority on education.

“Education is the largest single item in my budget,” Corbett said. “The increase I propose would bring direct state support of public education to $10.1 billion, more than 40 percent of state spending.”

The increase will bring the total of additional education funding for the past three years to $1.2 billion, the governor said.

Corbett directly addressed the cuts to education funding which opponents have criticized since Corbett took office in 2011. The cuts were necessary to grappled with the decreasing federal stimulus package that coincided with the 2008 recession, he said.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140204/pennsylvania-gov-tom-corbett-announces-2014-2015-budget-plan-targets-education

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Opposition Builds To Library Funding Cut By Lower Pottsgrove Township

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montg...

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LOWER POTTSGROVE TOWNSHIP, PA — The township commissioners’ decision to reconsider its 2014 funding for the Pottstown Regional Public Library has resulted in a swelling of support for the library and a number of efforts to keep the funding intact.

Earlier this month when the Board of Commissioners reorganized, the new majority announced its intention to open up the 2014 budget adopted one month earlier and reduce funding to the Pottstown Regional Public Library on High Street.

Paradoxically, in December, Lower Pottsgrove had joined with both Upper Pottsgrove and Pottstown borough in increasing the allocation to the library for 2014.

In Lower Pottsgrove’s case, the commissioners had agreed in December to increase the annual allocation by $5,000 — up to $65,000.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140118/opposition-builds-to-library-funding-cut-by-l-pottstrove

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New Lower Pottsgrove Board Wants To Cut Library Funding, Add Police

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montg...

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LOWER POTTSGROVE — New township commissioners’ Chairman Bruce Foltz is the first to acknowledge that he and the new majority on the board made a lot of changes in their first meeting of the year Monday night.

In fact, he said so in comments at the close of the meeting.

“We want the staff, fire department, solicitor, and commissioners to have the same goal; for the township to be user friendly,” said Foltz at the close of Monday’s re-organization meeting during which he was elected chairman and many of the immediate changes were implemented.

“We want to bring businesses into the township and have it not be a hassle, with all the back and forth, for our contractors and developers,” Foltz said.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140106/new-lower-pottsgrove-board-wants-to-cut-library-funding-add-police

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New Pittsburgh Government Set To Launch As Peduto Has Laid Out Some Lofty Goals

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)

On Saturday, incoming Mayor Bill Peduto began his move into the mayoral wing on the fifth floor of the City-County Building in advance of today’s inauguration, when he will officially take the reins of city government.

The Rev. Terry O’Connor, son of the late Mayor Bob O’Connor and brother to Councilman Corey O’Connor, blessed the space with a sprinkling of holy water. The floors were mopped.

For a man who has pledged to “clean up city hall” and who gave his victory speech while clutching a broom, it was an apropos entrance.

Mr. Peduto has expounded on that theme for more than a year, calling the administration of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl corrupt and saying that the city needs to move away from the old-style politics if it wants to progress. And if he holds to his campaign pledges, he will represent a monumental shift in both style and substance in the mayor’s office.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/01/06/New-Pittsburgh-government-set-to-launch-as-Peduto-has-laid-out-some-lofty-goals/stories/2014010601030000000#ixzz2pdpIux3L

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As Scranton Mayor, Doherty Leaving, His Mark Affixed

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

For an evaluation of Mayor Chris Doherty’s 12 years in the top city job, listen to his chief critic.

“Overall, the mayor did a very good job. He had a vision for the city and, by and large, I think he fulfilled that vision,” city council President Janet Evans said.

This is the same Janet Evans who spent the better part of her 10 years as a councilwoman ripping Mr. Doherty for one shortcoming or another at weekly council meetings.

Not that Mrs. Evans is done criticizing. She still thinks Mr. Doherty borrowed too much money, should have negotiated contracts with the city’s police and firefighter unions instead of fighting a losing and costlier arbitration battle and needed, in his later years, more experienced cabinet members.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/as-mayor-doherty-leaving-his-mark-affixed-1.1608177

Protestors Gather In Norristown To Oppose Parkhouse Sale

Location of Upper Providence Township in Montg...

Location of Upper Providence Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NORRISTOWN — Protestors rallied outside of the Montgomery County Courthouse Saturday in opposition to the sale of the Parkhouse geriatric center and its surrounding 220 acres of land in Upper Providence.

Upper Providence Supervisor Lisa Mossie, who has been at the forefront of opposition to the sale, said she was hoping the Montgomery County commissioners would notice the rally, cancel the sale and work out a new deal for the property.

“It’s my hope that it will change the commissioners’ minds that this is something nobody cares about. That it’s not a vocal minority. Everybody I have talked to is upset about this,” Mossie said. “My hope is that this sale is not done. It’s not finalized yet. They’ve cited that as their reason for not releasing the terms of the sale.”

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20131228/protestors-gather-in-norristown-to-oppose-parkhouse-sale

Forks Township Supervisors Approve 13 Percent Tax Increase

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Property taxes will go up 13 percent next year in Forks Township.

Last week, the board of supervisors approved a budget that includes the tax increase and an additional $700,000 in expenditures.

The extra money will pay for new vehicles and equipment or repairs.

Finance Manager Jim Farley said vehicle prices continue to go up despite the economy. He estimated a new, fully loaded dump truck with a plow could cost $500,000 and a fire engine could cost as much as $2 million.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2013/12/forks_township_supervisors_app_4.html

York County Approves Budget Without Tax Increase

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

York County commissioners on Wednesday approved a 2014 budget with no tax increase.

The millage rate will remain 4.52, so a taxpayer with a home assessed at $150,000 will continue to pay $678 in county real estate taxes.

County administrator Chuck Noll said no significant changes were made to the final budget after the draft one was presented in November. He said it was the fourth time in five years that commissioners approved a budget without a tax increase.

The $476.7 million budget includes a general fund of $190.6 million.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/politics/ci_24753479/york-county-approves-budget-without-tax-increase

State College Council To Vote Monday On Budget, Proposed Tax Hike

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  The average State College homeowner, with a property value of $200,000, would pay $7 more per month….

State College Borough Council will decide Monday whether to go along with one member’s last-minute push to avoid a tax increase in 2014.

Council is expected to vote Monday on a proposed budget that carries a property tax increase of 1.5 mills. But Councilman Jim Rosenberger suggested last week that he would make a motion instead to put off the increase and dig deeper into reserve funds to balance the spending plan.

Rosenberger said he hadn’t seen enough at a series of budget discussions to be convinced that the borough needs to raises taxes in 2014.

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said that the budget could be modified to include no tax increase and still be passed Monday. Council wouldn’t have to start the process over or hold additional meetings.

Scranton Mayor Vetoes Council’s Revisions To His Budget

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Mayor Chris Doherty on Friday vetoed city council’s revisions to his proposed $130.2 million budget.

Council will hold a special meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m. to vote on whether to override or sustain the veto, council President Janet Evans said.

A split council on Thursday raised and lowered some salaries and added two positions in the mayor’s budget. The amendments did not change the budget total or the 57 percent tax increase and 69 percent trash collection fee hike.

Council voted 3-2 on many of the amendments in a split that had Councilmen Bob McGoff, Pat Rogan and Jack Loscombe, who are all returning to council in 2014, forming a bloc to pass the amendments, and Council President Janet Evans and Councilman Frank Joyce, who are departing council, dissenting.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-mayor-vetoes-council-s-revisions-to-his-budget-1.1601207

Chester County Approves 2014 Budget

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

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

WEST CHESTER, PA – Chester County approved a $523 million budget Wednesday that would not raise residents’ taxes in 2014.

Operating expenses total $430 million, and the capital budget is $93 million. Next year’s budget is $4 million less than this year’s budget.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/suburban_pa/20131212_Chester_County_approves_2014_budget.html#tvoLqI6IphpHvOqD.99

Budget Adopted By Plymouth Council With No Tax Hike

Location of Plymouth Township in Montgomery County

Location of Plymouth Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP, PA — The final, $21,021,288 2014 budget, which keeps the millage rate at 1.6 mills, was unanimously adopted by council Monday night.

The budget has a reserve fund balance of $5,988,716 at the end of 2014, including more than $3 million in cash, said. The available fund balance decreased from $6,678,813 at the end of 2013 to $5,988,716.

The budget has contractual increases in salary for police and administration employees. Health care costs are up about $300,000, and there is an additional $240,000 for three additional police officers in the budget, Creelman said.

The average residential home is assessed at $180,000 and the township tax will is expected to remain at $288.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20131209/budget-adopted-by-plymouth-council-with-no-tax-hike

Montgomery County Holds Line On Taxes In 2014

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN, PAMontgomery County will balance its 2014 budget without raising taxes, according to Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson.

It will be second straight year tax rates in the county have not been raised, Monson told the county commissioners Thursday.

The county projects $371,510,842 in total revenues and $371,473,973 in expenditures for 2014, with a year-end operating surplus of $36,869 in the general fund budget, Monson said.

The county also expects to have just over $41 million in the fund balance at the end of the year, he said.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/government-and-politics/20131122/montgomery-county-holds-line-on-taxes-in-2014

Slight Tax Hike Projected In 2014 Limerick Budget

Location of Limerick Township in Montgomery County

Location of Limerick Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LIMERICK TOWNSHIP, PA — In a close vote, the township supervisors voted at Tuesday night’s meeting to advertise a proposed budget with a small property tax increase.

The $23,734,327 budget carries a tax increase of 5.75 percent to close a funding gap of $157,720. An owner with a property assessed at the township’s average of $150,000 would see a $16 increase on their tax bill yearly.

As such, the town’s mill rate would stand at 2.004.

The dividing line on the 3-2 vote was whether to close the funding gap using reserves or with a tax increase.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131119/slight-tax-hike-projected-in-2014-limerick-budget

York City Mayor Proposes No Tax Increase

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

York City Mayor Kim Bracey is proposing a 2014 budget that does not increase property taxes.

The proposal is now in the hands of the York City Council, which has scheduled two hearings in early December to discuss the budget. It is scheduled to be adopted at the council’s Tuesday, Dec. 17 meeting.

“This was a tough budget,” Bracey said Tuesday at a press conference.

The city’s costs continue to rise, and revenues haven’t kept pace, Bracey said. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s “antiquated” local-government system greatly limits the options for officials in third-class cities like York, she said.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_24553629/york-city-mayor-proposes-no-tax-increase