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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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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Budget Preparations Getting Started In Pottstown Borough

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — Although Pottstown Borough Council has yet to be presented with a budget draft, the members of council’s finance committee have.

It is too soon to say if council will be able to avoid raising property taxes for two years in a row, but it is obviously on everybody’s mind.

Councilman Dan Weand, who chairs the finance committee, told council that he likes the way the borough finances are shaping up.

“So far, with 75 percent of the year passed, we’ve brought in 85 percent of the revenue and only seen 74 percent of the expenses,” said Weand.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131019/budget-preparations-getting-started-in-pottstown-borough

Mayor Holds Line On Taxes, Raises His Own Salary In Proposed Budget

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA – Mayor Tom Leighton proposed a $42.7 million 2014 budget Friday without any tax or fee hikes, a raise for himself and funding to hire additional police officers.

“My goal is to hire at least 10 new officers in 2014, but we will closely monitor the strength of city finances to hire as many officers as the general fund can afford,” Leighton said during his budget presentation at city hall.

Unionized city employees will receive a 3 percent raise. Leighton’s salary also will increase 3 percent for 2014 to $82,309.

Leighton, who is serving in his third term as mayor, said he has not taken a raise for the last seven years amid financial woes

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/mayor-holds-line-on-taxes-raises-his-own-salary-in-proposed-budget-1.1567278

Pottstown Police Department Versus Scranton Police Department

Editor’s note:  Scranton had a population of 76,089 according to the 2010 census.   The city is 25 square miles.  According to Citydata.com, Scranton had 150 police officers and a department of 170 as of 2010.   The crime rate in Scranton for 2010 was 275.7 (US average is 319.1).

Scranton currently has an acting Chief of Police whose salary is the same as the permanent Chief who stepped down three months ago.  The salary for running a department of 170, in a city of 76,000 people is $81,073.

Pottstown had 22,377 residents according to the 2010 census and is 5 square miles.   Pottstown had a police department of 46 officers (58 total) per Citydata.com’s data for 2010. Pottstown’s crime rate for 2010 was 539 (US average 319.1).  

Pottstown’s Chief of Police/Acting Borough Manager is already making more than $100,000.00 a year.

The cost of living differences being taken into consideration, Scranton is 3 1/2 times the size of Pottstown in population, 5 time as large as Pottstown in area and has a police department 3 times the size of Pottstown’s and yet Scranton’s Chief of Police makes $20,000 less a year than Pottstown’s???  We won’t even get into the difference in the crime rate between the two (HINT: Scranton is safer).

Does this not illustrate why Pottstown’s budget is grossly over inflated?  Does this not indicate paying a new borough manager way more than Jason Bobst was making is fiscal insanity?  

The mayor of Scranton, who is the chief executive and not a ribbon cutter like Pottstown’s Missy Mayor, makes $81,872 (far less than Jason did) and he runs a city 3 1/2 time the size of Pottstown.  And trust me, running Scranton is more challenging than running Pottstown.

Pottstown Borough Council might as well start a bonfire in Smith Plaza, throw the taxpayer’s money in, make a few s’mores and call it a day!

Here is the link to the article about how Scranton is handling their police department: 

http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/in-scranton-no-intention-of-changing-police-chief-status-1.1402117

Audit: Allentown Posts Deficit As Fund Balance Drops In 2011

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)

Another year of rising pension costs and flat revenues in 2011 forced Allentown to tap into what’s turned out to be not such an endless well.

Faced with a deficit for the fourth year in a row, the city dipped a bit farther into its shrinking general fund, spending more than $12 million in the last five years.

The general fund is the city’s primary operating account. It’s used to collect most revenues, pay out most expenses, like public safety and public works, and carry over undesignated and unspent money into the following year.

Now, Allentown is faced with its smallest fund balance in years — $1.9 million — and city officials aren’t ruling anything out if faced with a fifth year of deficit — not tax increases, not the sale of city property or any other solutions.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-budget-deficit-20120705,0,5637297.story

Mount Penn Borough, Lower Alsace Township Meet, Talk Merger

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

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

Claudia Hurwitz and Josh Nowotarski were there to find facts.

John Theodossiou wanted to promote moving forward with an open mind.

Hurwitz, a Mount Penn council member, Nowotarski, the Mount Penn mayor, and Theodossiou, a Lower Alsace Township supervisor, were speaking at a joint public meeting on the possibility of pursuing a study that would examine the advantages and disadvantages of merging the two municipalities.

For weeks the borough and township discussed whether they wanted to meet with one another to discuss a potential study. After deliberating at meetings, they independently decided to meet Tuesday at the Antietam Junior-Senior High School in Lower Alsace.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=386464

Antietam School District Exploring The Possibility Of Merging With Exeter SD

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

Image via Wikipedia

It’s a tune the Antietam School District has heard before: The district is once again exploring the possibility of merging with Exeter Township School District.

This is not the first time the neighboring districts have considered merging, nor the second. Or even the third. The idea has been discussed, repeatedly, as far back as the 1960s.

And for some Antietam residents, the history of failed mergers clouds their opinion of a new consideration.

“I don’t think they’ll merge,” said Brandy High, a Lower Alsace Township mother with two children in Antietam schools. “They’ve been saying it for a long time and never did.”

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=362292

Save Pottstown Lambastes Thomas Hylton In Election Related Post

Ah, the smell of napalm is in the air once again as Election Day is just around the corner.  Our friends at Save Pottstown have come out of semi-retirement to shed some light on the self-proclaimed “most powerful man in Pottstown” and his election antics campaign.  Look for those glossy mailers to start trashing up your mailboxes soon!  If nothing else, they make lovely bird-cage liners or table crumbers.

To read Save Pottstown’s revealing look at Mr. Hylton aka the PAC man’s finances and get a few yucks at their verbiage, click on the link below:

http://savepottstown.com/lang/es/2011/11/the-queen-of-the-big-spenders-is-back/

Education Week Releases Annual State Report Cards

Bookstand with large textbook

Image via Wikipedia

Education Week has released the results of their grading of all 50 states’ educational systems. Pennsylvania scored a B-.  Maryland had the highest score with a B+ followed by New York’s B rating.  The Dakotas and the District of Columbia scored a D+.

Click the link below to view the interactive map.  Click on each state to see details on who made the grade and how they did it.

Pennsylvania did well compared to the rest of the United States however; a B- certainly leaves room for improvement.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/qc/2011/16src.h30.html

Even Limerick Township Is Not Recession Proof

Location of Limerick Township in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

When one thinks of communities that would have budget woes, Limerick Township is not normally a place that would pop into your head. 

The 22.6 square mile township has 13,534 inhabitants (2000 census).  85% of Limerick’s residents own a home.  The estimated median house/condo value in 2008 was $271,583.  The estimated median income in 2008 was $81,877.  Only 1.9% of its residents live below the poverty level.  These numbers are well above the state averages.

Somehow, the township found themselves with an $850,000 deficit going into their 2011 budget process.  Declines in land development and permits (recession) were blamed.   The end result was making some hard decisions about purchases and facility upgrades along with the elimination of two staff positions.

Bottom line here is that taxes will not increase for 2011 and the budget trimming will not reduce services for residents.

Demographic information is from City-data.com

Norristown Borough Adopts $25.5 Million Dollar Budget With 12.74% Tax Increase

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

Norristown Borough Council unanimously adopted their 2011 budget tonight that features a tax increase of 12.74%.   No layoff’s were announced.

Interestingly enough, Norristown’s budget is approximately $14 million dollars less than Pottstown’s budget.  Wonder why it costs so much less to run a larger borough??????

Pottstown’s 2011 Budget

Not that we can jump for joy just yet, but it sounds like better days are ahead on Pottstown’s financial front.  Barring any unforseen hiccups, or any contract arbitrations that run awry, we could be looking at no tax increase for next year.

First, we should thank Jason Bobst, Borough Manager, Janice Lee, Finance Director and Councilor Weand and his Finance Committee for their hard work and financial stewardship.  Everyone is working hard trying to get Pottstown’s financial house in order.  This is a rather daunting task as things have not been property attended in the past thereby making this a herculean task for the above named people.

I ran into Councilor Weand at the polls yesterday and we had a nice conversation about finances.  

Accounting is boring and most of us don’t understand much about it.  It isn’t an exciting topic of conversation and most people end up in “deer in the headlights” mode if discussed for too long. 

Our financial practices as a borough were a hideous.  Dan and his committee are trying to shore up the foundation so our house doesn’t collapse.  This is also necessary if we want to get grants and funding for projects.  Nobody wants to throw money at an organization that can’t keep track of their books!

The work accomplished this year has been tedious and rather complicated.  However, we are starting to see results that you and I can appreciate and understand.  We have a handle on the check book, we can pay our bills, we are returning Pottstown to standard accounting practices that will make our finances transparent, understandable and make us eligible for grants and such as we have a paper trail aka back-up documentation to prove what we say.  You may have noticed that lenders usually don’t just take your word for stuff.  They want proof!  Same way with municipalities folks!

Bottom line - Because of all this behind-the-scenes work, we might not have to increase taxes and maybe we can get some free money to do some awesome projects to help Pottstown become all it can be!

Keep in mind that Rome, or Pottstown for that matter, wasn’t built in a day.  This is an ongoing process.  There is more progress to be made and no one is resting on their laurels.  Keep up the good work!  We look forward to more positive results.

Pennsylvania Experiences Revenue Decrease For October

Some disappointing financial news for Pennsylvania.  Revenue collected for October was 3.2% below projections, which translates to $57 million dollars less than expected for the month.  $44 million of the shortfall was in the personal income tax category.

We aren’t out of the woods yet!

New Business Opening In Pottstown

Pottstown, Pa.  - Top Notch Credit Advisors announces opening of new location in Pottstown, Pa.  Local man, Marcus Shellenberger, has opened a new location at 867 N. Hanover St. in Pottstown.

The company’s primary focus is credit restoration and repair.  “Over a period of 45 to 60 days we can help most people repair and remove most of the problems on their credit report.” says Shellenberger.

He also said that “over 70% of the derogatories on most people’s
credit report are inaccurately reported and that is what we go after, often with a very high success rate.”  Marcus stated that “There is a money back guarantee, if we don’t perform the customer gets their money back.”

Contrary to popular belief credit restoration is legal as long as you
are bonded and registered with the state.  There are also certain
disclosure documents that are required to be provided to consumers explaining their rights.  All of which Top Notch Credit Advisors has and provides to its customers.  As with any industry there are some bad apples, but Top Notch exceeds all state and federal requirements.

Credit restoration is often confused with debt settlement.  Where
credit restoration removes and repairs problems on your report, a debt settlement company would contact creditors and negotiate your debt down and then consolidate that into one payment.  It is actually two completely different services.

Shellenberger states “we are usually able to raise a score from 50-100 points, but we can’t help everyone.  What we do is evaluate each report before accepting someone into our program and prices range from $250 to $900 with a written guarantee.”

Marcus has provided a short video on credit that is located at:
http://topnotchcreditadvisors.com/learn-credit-in-11-minutes/

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About Top Notch Credit Advisors:

Top Notch Credit Advisors is located at 867 N. Hanover St. Pottstown, Pa 19464.  They provide credit restoration services to consumers.  They can work with clients in any state.  They are bonded, licensed and state registered.  Top Notch also offers a written guarantee.

For more information visit: http://TopNotchCreditAdvisors.com or call: 610-326-0162

Pottstown Leadership Shoots Taxpayers In The Foot Again!

When the Urban Land Institute said Pottstown has a leadership vacuum they just weren’t kidding now were they!!!

This $61,000 gift to West Pottsgrove for example is beyond embarrassing people.  What the hell are we paying taxes for??  We might as well have a big bonfire in Smith Plaza and throw money into it for cryin’ out loud!  West Pottsgrove has a GIGANTIC cash reserve from the landfill.  I think they can pay their sewer bill!  This kissy face nonsense is ridiculous.  They owe the money and they should damn well pay it!  Borough homeowners wouldn’t get any deals I bet!

We keep taxing people to death and wasting money like there is no tomorrow while the fine residents of this community sit and watch in horror at the antics in City Hall!  Some people need to get fired and voted out of office.  ENOUGH!  We demand accountability!

It’s amazing the state doesn’t come in here and take over.  Pathetic, pathetic, pathetic excuse for management and leadership.   We don’t know what happened for four years!  Is there group amnesia over at City Hall!?!?  That must have been one hell of a party since nobody can remember what happened!

The inmates are running the asylum!  God help us!