Time To Top 20 Percent Turnout In Tuesday’s Election

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something perplexing happens in municipal elections like the one coming up Tuesday.

The public officials being elected have the most direct impact on people’s lives.

Yet turnout of registered voters – usually less than 20 percent – is the lowest in the four-year election cycle.

These officials make sure roads are plowed in winter and grass in parks is mowed in summer. They hire contractors for road repairs. They oversee police. They pass zoning laws that dictate where housing developments should go and where businesses should be built, which can impact land values.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=518129

Poverty In Reading Worsens, Census Says

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with ...

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with Berks County courthouse on left; July 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading’s poverty rate worsened in 2012, making it the second most impoverished city in the country behind Detroit.

The percent of city residents in poverty increased from 40.1 to 40.5, according to statistics released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

That’s less than the 41.3 percent of Reading residents who were in poverty in 2010 when Reading had a higher percentage of residents in poverty than any other U.S. city with 65,000 or more people.

But hope for Reading still exists, said Jane Palmer, principal author and coordinator of the 65-page 2011 report of the Rebuilding Reading Poverty Commission.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=512690

Berks Commissioners Expand Hotel Tax To Include Entire County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

All hotels and motels in Berks County must begin collecting a 5 percent room tax starting Oct. 1.

The county commissioners in a 2-1 vote Thursday extended the tax to facilities beyond the 15-mile radius of the Sovereign Center established when the tax went into effect March 1, 1997.

The tax currently produces about $1.7 million annually, with 80 percent going to the Berks County Convention Center Authority to repay money borrowed to build the center and 20 percent going to the Greater Reading Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The expansion is expected to bring in an additional $310,000 in 2014.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=488474

Crews Prepare Berks County Courthouse, Services Center For Renovations

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with ...

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with Berks County courthouse on left; July 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The crew of five men put one piece of pipe after another into fittings on other pipes, building a framework of heavy duty steel on a parapet 19 stories above ground level.

They have been working on it since Monday. By the end of next week, steel I-beams will be attached securely to the framework, known as swing-stage scaffolding.  The I-beams will jut horizontally from the very top of the Berks County Courthouse.

Soon afterward workers will begin descending in baskets attached to the I-beams to give the building a $6.9 million face-lift.

The courthouse was completed in 1932. Parts of the exterior were refurbished in the 1970s and in 1992.  But this is believed to be the first total overhaul of the building’s skin.

Read more:   http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=474864

When The Bough Breaks: Berks County Commissioners Initiate Study Of Park Trees

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Most people walk through a park looking at what nature offers at eye level or lower to avoid tripping over roots or other natural features of the land.

But not Berks County Parks Director Clare W. Adams, a landscape architect.

She tends to see the beauty in the leaf canopy above her and wonder about the health of the trees.

She wants park visitors to be able to enjoy the view without having to worry about falling branches or trees.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=438817

Passenger Rail Excursions Planned For Historic Short Line In Boyertown

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

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

The sound of the whistle echoed through Boyertown Saturday as the diesel engine left a rail yard near Third and Chestnut streets pulling two hoppers loaded with scrapped steel.

The 8.2-mile downhill trip to Pottstown had begun.

Engineer Fitzhugh “Beanie” Clark said Eastern Berks Gateway Railroad is running one or two trips a week on the historic short line known as the Colebrookdale Spur.  It first became operational in 1869.

The Berks County commissioners bought the line for $1.35 million in March 2009 to save it from abandonment by a former owner, and contracted with Eastern Berks to operate it.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=401732

Berks County Property Tax To Rise 5-8%

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Next year Berks County property owners can expect the first county tax increase in eight years: between about 5 and 8 percent.

The amount will depend on negotiations with labor unions that represent county workers, county commissioners said Tuesday during their workshop session.

Budget Director Robert J. Patrizio Jr. said that in a worst-case scenario a 2.5 percent increase in wages would cost the county $3.2 million in 2013. Covering that, plus an expected deficit this year of $9.5 million and cuts in state funding would require an 8 percent increase in taxes, he said.

Property owners currently pay a rate of 6.935 mills, or $693.50 annually on a property assessed at $100,000.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=399675