Arresting Regionalization Figures Aired

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

DUPONT, PA – There was good news and bad news, depending on where you live.

A regional police study was presented Thursday night to municipal officials from Avoca, Dupont, Duryea, Hughestown, Laflin and Jenkins Township.

If you live in Laflin, the borough could save nearly $200,000 a year by joining a regional police department. If you cross the border into Jenkins Township, the cost is well over $100,000 more each year, according to the study.

Ron Stern of the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services and Joseph L. Kirschner, on speakerphone from Naples, Fla., detailed a 42-page report outlining current staffing and costs, and a plan for a unified force.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1147789/Arresting-regionalization-figures-aired

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Western Pennsylvania District Provides Example Of Successful School Merger

Map of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United Sta...

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

MONACA, PA – In a dimly lit steakhouse some 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, two school superintendents – one current and one newly retired – crowd into a booth illuminated by neon signs.

The smell of barbecue permeates the air at PJ’s Bar-B-Q & Steak House, as Nick Perry and Dan Matsook grab menus and talk school mergers.

For Matsook, it’s a familiar setting for such a discussion.

In October 2005, Matsook, then superintendent of the Center Area School District, sat in another restaurant, the Ground Round in nearby Moon Township, where he and school officials from his district and the neighboring Monaca School District laid the foundation for what would be the first voluntary merger of two school districts in Pennsylvania.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20140113/NEWS/301139967/1052#.UtQx2vRDsxI

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Done Deal: US Airways, American Complete Merger

An American Airlines Boeing 757-223 landing at...

An American Airlines Boeing 757-223 landing at Vancouver International Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finally, it’s a done deal.

American Airlines AMR Corp. and US Airways Group Monday officially announced the completion of their merger to form American Airlines Group Inc., the world’s largest airline.

At 7:40 a.m., the secretary of state in Delaware, Jeffrey Bullock, filed a certificate of merger. The new company is incorporated in Delaware.

US Airways CEO Doug Parker, who will lead the new American, will ring the opening bell on the Nasdaq stock market at 9:30 a.m. eastern time, signifying the the opening of trading of the new American’s shares on Nasdaq. Ticker: AAL.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20131210_Done_deal__US_Airways__American_complete_merger.html#gH05iJPAtZ6qemow.99

Southwestern Pennsylvania Transit Merger Report Is Due Out In April

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A private firm hired by PennDOT to study the merging of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s 10 transit systems — which has drawn interest from county leaders across the region — said on Monday it will present its findings in April.

Officials from outside of Alle­gheny County said forming a regional transit system is a good idea but are wary of taking on the costs of the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

“We’ve got to look at it. All of these small transit systems are dying on the vine. There’s no federal and state funding. You want to see if you can consolidate some things, but a lot of details have to be worked out,” said Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi. “I certainly don’t want to absorb (Port Authority legacy costs) to Washington County taxpayers.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/4961575-74/transit-county-authority#ixzz2j8v6KQEL
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U.S. Steel New CEO Expected To Slash More Costs

U.S. Steel

U.S. Steel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The $1.8 billion charge U.S. Steel announced Friday is the first of several moves that industry analysts expect new CEO Mario Longhi will make to revitalize a company that has not had a profitable year since 2008.

Mr. Longhi, who took over Sept. 1 for John P. Surma, has been given a mandate to drastically slash costs and increase efficiency. So far, the former Alcoa executive has been largely silent about how he intends to do that. But analysts expect Mr. Longhi to rip a page from the playbook that most new CEOs rely on by getting the bad news out of the way early in his tenure.

Among the measures analysts expect is shutting at least one of the company’s plants. They cite the glut of current capacity as well as new mills being built that are targeting one of U.S. Steel’s most profitable markets: tubular products used in the oil and gas industry.

“We remain in a structurally over-supplied market,” said analyst Gordon Johnson of Axiom Capital Management in New York City. “Supply is going to continue to grow at an unhealthy clip.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2013/10/22/U-S-Steel-new-CEO-expected-to-slash-more-costs/stories/201310220091

Savings Slow In Reading Purge Of Insurance Rolls

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The city had budgeted savings of nearly $900,000 this year by purging its health insurance rolls of ineligible employees, dependents and police retirees.

It also budgeted a contingency fund of $980,000, if the purges didn’t go as planned.

They haven’t.

Managing Director Carole B. Snyder said the city has seen little savings so far because the police retiree purge got bogged down in arbitration and in complex evaluations that may not be complete by year’s end.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=505866

Pottstown Police Move Dispatch To Montco, Emergency Number Stays The Same

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — A change is coming to the borough police department that will impact residents and police officers differently.

At 10 a.m. on May 6, borough police will no longer be dispatched from the Pottstown Police Department, but instead directly from the Montgomery County Communications.

Currently, when borough residents want to report an accident or an incident where police are needed, they speak to a county dispatcher, who in turn relays the information to the borough dispatch, who radio information to the officers.

Pottstown Police Capt. Richard Drumheller said the change is a positive one because it will save time and money.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130502/NEWS01/130509917/pottstown-police-move-dispatch-to-montco-emergency-number-stays-the-same-

Pottstown Officials All Get iPads To Save On Paper Costs.

Editor’s note:  While I am ALL about technology, there might be better uses for taxpayer money at this time.  I would have been far more impressed if security cameras were purchased for high crime areas in Pottstown to act as a crime deterrent and a means to solve crime faster. Pottstown‘s crime problem isn’t going away (even if we stick our bobbleheads in the sand and make a wish).  

Another item sorely needed, as pointed out by the Golden Cockroach, is a street sweeper.   The first block of North Charlotte Street looks like a landfill there is so much debris blowing about. Maybe suck up a few loitering souls down by the clock tower too.  I am as sick and tired of looking at vagrants standing around doing nothing as I am the trash!

Considering the scope of Pottstown’s problems, this is a waste of money.  Especially giving Missy Mayor an iPad.  What on earth will that woman do with an iPad?  Hope you bought the extended warranty and service contract.

POTTSTOWN — If you’re thinking that you might like to get yourself an iPad, perhaps you should instead consider running for borough council whose members, it was revealed Monday, have all received a shiny new electronic device courtesy of you the taxpayer.

In addition to the eight members of borough council, also receiving the popular electronic device were the five members of the Pottstown Borough Authority.

(It should be noted that one fewer iPad is needed for the borough authority board given that Council Vice President Jeff Chomnuk is also a member of the borough authority.  It is presumed he will only receive on iPad and not two.)

All total, Pottstown taxpayers have purchased a total of 23 iPads “for borough councilors, the mayor, the authority board members, and department heads,” according to information provided in an e-mail from Borough Manager Mark Flanders.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130313/NEWS01/130319690/pottstown-officials-give-themselves-ipads-to-save-on-paper-costs#full_story

Pottstown School Board Seeks Input On Stadium Lighting

POTTSTOWN — The school board has deciding against using as much as $225,000 in money it had not expected to receive from the state to replace the football stadium’s aging light poles.

Instead, the board agreed to reach out to the community to solicit ideas for how to raise the money.

“I’ve had a lot of feedback from the community about this,” said board member Amy Francis.  “And we’re really between a rock and a hard place.”

 “I think we need to find a way to make it happen, but we need to find a more creative way,” she said.

Boyertown, Colebrookdale To Again Talk Police Merger

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

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

Colebrookdale Township and Boyertown will soon return to a familiar topic of conversation between the two neighbors: a possible merger of their police departments.

At a recent Colebrookdale commissioners meeting, Township Manager Cindy Conrad said Boyertown has approached the township about holding merger talks for the second time in two years and the third time in the past decade.

The board agreed to renew the discussion, with President Todd M. Gamler noting that it doesn’t cost anything to talk.

The police forces have historically worked together.  Because the township nearly surrounds Boyertown, Colebrookdale officers often have to drive through the borough on the way to calls.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=433906

West Reading Committee Weighs Police Options

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

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

A committee formed by West Reading officials last month is looking into the possibility of consolidating the borough’s police force.

James Gallen Jr., a borough councilman and committee member, said the committee – rounded out by Council President Kevin M. Conrad, Councilwoman Elizabeth Heckler and Mayor Shane J. Keller – will enter into discussions with neighboring municipalities and the state police regarding the future of West Reading’s troubled police department.

“We’re exploring consolidation as a cost-saving measure,” Gallen said, adding that Wyomissing would be “a natural fit.”

The talks will extend to other nearby departments, which could include Shillington, and Cumru and Spring townships, he added.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=420092

Exeter-Antietam School District Merger Talks Give Rise To Questions

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

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

By definition, it’s a union – oftentimes, an absorption. It could be as simple as sharing a sports team. Or as complex as a new high school.

For the school officials who make the ultimate decision, though, mergers aren’t so easily defined. They’re complex; never the same. And ultimately, the trigger for heated emotions all around.

Since talk of a merger between the Exeter and Antietam school districts reignited this year, questions have arisen.

If the two were to combine, residents wondered, would there be a new name? Which high school would be used? And who, if anyone, would actually benefit?

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=410187

Thomas Hylton Is Astonished By Plans To Add Classrooms To Pottstown Elementary Schools

The Grand Poobah of the Pottstown School Board, Thomas Hylton seems to suffer from convenient memory loss.  After carefully reading Evan Brandt’s account of the latest school board meeting, I found this quote by Numero Uno Responsible Citizen, Thomas Hylton rather humorous.

“Our first responsibility,” Hylton said, “is the economic viability of this community and, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is astonishing to me that we are thinking of adding extra classrooms to our elementary schools.”  

This cow patty of wisdom from the number one Rupert-lover himself.  What about the architecturally correct windows and geothermal heating and cooling that Responsible Tom proposed for Rupert?  Now suddenly we’re “astonished” that we want to add classrooms to house the Edgewood students.  Should we educate them on the lawn, Tom?

The Middle School would need to be retrofitted to segregate the elementary students from the middle school students.  That will cost money as well.  It was made abundantly clear by the parents of elementary students that they do not want their children mixed in with the middle school population.  I guess Tom forgot about the community outrage when he proposed putting 5th grade in the Middle School during his heyday as Neighborhood Schools Potentate.

I think somebody needs some Ginkgo biloba or the wifey needs to take better notes at meetings.

PPL Will Rebuild Turbine Plant, Creating Electricity To Sell To Allentown

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown will transfer an aging turbine plant on the Little Lehigh Creek to PPL so the power company can rebuild and modernize the facility, creating electricity to sell back to the city.

City Council unanimously approved the 25-year agreement at a meeting Wednesday night, with members saying the city would save on electric costs in the partnership.

Allentown has to provide the byproduct gas from the nearby wastewater plant and buy the electricity generated at the new plant. The city won’t spend anything on capital costs or maintenance.

The deal will help the city avoid the cost of dismantling or operating the 8-year-old plant that has come to the end of its usefulness, said Rich Young, the public works director, at a meeting last week.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-ppl-biogas-electric-facility-20120418,0,3278821.story

Talks Continue On Police Force Merger In Northwest Berks

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

Image via Wikipedia

The Bethel and Tulpehocken township supervisors Monday night continued discussing forming a regional police force.

The townships have been exploring a regional police force since 2010. Each township has its own part-time department and relies on state police coverage when no officers are on duty.

The focus Monday was on details, but the supervisors decided to send out a letter, asking if any other municipalities were interested in regional policing.

The inquiries will go to Upper Tulpehocken, Marion and Jefferson townships and Strausstown.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=367757

Wilkes-Barre Area School District Has As Many Elementary Schools As Pottstown

Here is another example that demonstrates Pottstown School District has too many elementary schools.  Wilkes-Barre Area School District has 9 schools.  Five elementary schools, one junior high and three high schools.  The enrollment for Wilkes-Barre Area is approximately 6700 students or about twice as many as Pottstown.  Very similar to Norristown Area School District, which I profiled the other day.

Elementary schools are K – 6th grades.

The Solomon/Plains Junior High School is 7th & 8th grades only. 

There are three high schools.  It was just announced that Wilkes-Barre Area is looking at possibily closing one of the three high schools (Meyers High School which has the lowest student population of the three with 840 students in grades 9 – 12 is being studied for closure).

The Wilkes-Barre Area School District encompasses 123 square miles and only has five elementary schools.  I would think a borough of 5 square miles, with half  of the student population of Wilkes-Barre Area, could easily get away with three elementary schools.

District data from Wikipedia and GreatSchools.org

Coatesville Area School District Eying Four-Day Week

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

Image via Wikipedia

The Coatesville Area School District is taking a unique approach to avoid layoffs and program cuts.  The district is proposing a year-round four-day school week.

Under Coatesville’s plan, high school students would have their day extended forty-five minutes and elementary students would have their day extended eighty minutes.  Making this change would save the Chester County school district $1.7 million a year.

Coatesville Area School District has 11 schools and nearly 7,000 students.

Boyertown And Upper Perk Teachers Vote For Wage Freeze

The Boyertown and Upper Perk teachers have agreed to a wage free to help both districts plug their budget deficits.  The savings realized will be in the millions of dollars!

Boyertown has a $6.5 million budget deficit and Upper Perkiomen has a $1.5 million deficit.  Boyertown teachers agreed to forgo raises for this year and next year.  This will save the district about $3 million each year. 

Upper Perkiomen teachers approved a wage freeze for the 2012-2013 school year.  This should save the Upper Perk nearly $500,000 dollars.

Pottstown administrators have agree to a wage freeze but we are still waiting to see what direction the contract negotiations will take with the teacher’s union.

City Of York Mulling Fire Company Regionalization Option

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Image via Wikipedia

The City of York, PA has four fire stations and a staff of 67 firefighters.  However, like all municipalities, York is looking at ways to cut costs.  Kim Bracey, York’s Mayor, said she will not close/merge any fire stations or cut staff if it will cut response time.  However, Mayor Bracey said the Fire Committee is looking into options like regionalization and cooperative agreements with other fire services organizations, including volunteers.

Emergency services costs are a big-ticket budget item and Bracey said city government needs to be responsible stewards of the taxpayer’s money.  If working together as a regional fire department can achieve the same high-quality results, at a lower cost, that option needs to be explored.  It has worked for many police departments.  York County already has regional police departments.  The Fire Committee will present their fire/EMS modernization plan to the public on April 5th.

The City of York has 43,718 residents (2010 census) and a land area of 5.20 square miles.  Mayor Bracey was the city’s Community Development Director before being elected mayor.

City Of Reading Buys iPads For Some Employees

iPad wordmark.

Image via Wikipedia

An interesting article from the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal about Reading buying 11 iPads for some city employees as a cost saving measure.  Make sure to read the comments.  I suppose this would be considered a one time investment and would pay for itself over time.

http://www.centralpennbusiness.com/index.php?showpage=bloglists&url=thegadgetcube/?p=529