LAFLIN, PA — The meeting of Laflin Borough Council devolved into chaos Monday night as four council members voted to immediately disband the police department and hire a consultant to liquidate the department’s property.
After hearing impassioned public comment against relying solely on state police to enforce the law in Laflin, a council majority voted to do just that, with Councilman Glen Gubitose the lone opposing vote.
The majority defended the move by saying the borough infrastructure is crumbling and in desperate need of repair after years of neglect. But that didn’t satisfy dozens of residents who showed up to voice their opposition to the move. As council members finished the vote, the room erupted in jeers and boos loud enough to drown out council members for the rest of the meeting.
Residents ordered to quiet down challenged council members to call the police.
New Jersey members of Congress appealed Tuesday to U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to support a $29 million National Emergency Grant request to help workers left unemployed by recent casino closings in Atlantic City.
In a letter sent by Republican U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo and Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Perez was urged to support the “Atlantic City Re-Employment Initiative” proposal to fund employer-driven training programs.
The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development filed the application for the National Emergency Grant late last month to address the needs of 8,000 workers left without jobs after recent closings of Revel, Showboat and Trump Plaza casinos and the earlier closing of the Atlantic Club.
York’s budget woes have set off a scramble to find ways to save positions in the departments that could face the deepest losses — police and fire — and triggered a whirlwind of questions about what would happen to the city if a balanced budget can come only at the cost of cutting public safety personnel.
Mayor Kim Bracey‘s budget, which she introduced Tuesday, would cut 46 positions in the police department and eight fire-fighting jobs, and would cut the city’s work force from 412 employees in 2014 to 315 next year, documents show. Bracey said she was faced with few options and asked community partners, legislators and the county for outside help.
As of Friday, “no one has knocked on the door,” she said.
She has called for union concessions. Bracey said she will meet with fire union President Fred Desantis on Monday, and the city already is in negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police. Police union president Mike Davis said he is “committed” to reaching an agreement before the end of the year.
Westmoreland County commissioners said Thursday that there won’t be a property tax increase next year despite a projected deficit of $15 million.
Commissioners revealed a preliminary $340 million budget for 2015 that anticipates declines in revenue and increases in proposed expenses, offset by dipping into the county’s surplus.
If enacted, the budget proposal would deplete the surplus fund to $10.7 million.
The surplus fund should end this year at $25 million.
Hours after York Mayor Kim Bracey outlined her proposal to dramatically reduce the city’s work force, including deep cuts to public safety forces, in order to close an anticipated $7 million budget gap, public backlash began.
“I’m ashamed for the city,” said James Waughtel during public comment at a City Council meeting Tuesday night, calling the potential loss of police and fire personnel “extremely devastating.”
Members of the fire union also lined the council chambers to listen as Bracey presented her plan to council members.
WEST HAZLETON — The state has rescinded the borough’s status as a distressed municipality. But while the borough has significantly improved finances since 2003, it’s not out of the woods yet.
State Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker determined that West Hazleton’s distressed status would be rescinded after a review of audits and financial data and the record from a public hearing on June 3, Gov. Tom Corbett’s office announced Thursday in a news release.
The hearing officer’s report revealed that in 2013, the borough had a $5,423 budget surplus, that finances were stable, and that the borough has the tools to make the decisions necessary to maintain responsible budgets, meet its obligations to vendors and creditors, and provide essential services to residents.
The closure of three Atlantic City casinos by mid-September will wipe $2 billion from the city’s property-tax values next year, exacerbating the already cash-strapped city’s financial plight, Mayor Don Guardian warned Tuesday.
By 2017, Guardian said on a conference call to discuss Atlantic City’s way forward as a tourism center following the rout of its casino industry, property values are expected to have fallen to as little as $7.5 billion from $20 billion five years ago.
In the short term, Guardian said the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has made money “available for some bridge loans to make sure that the city continues functioning with this year’s budget because of any concern that we might have that a casino’s closing, going bankrupt might hold off payments.”
ATLANTIC CITY – Members of the clergy locked arms as they led a march of about 400 Unite Here Local 54 members in “a prayer vigil for Atlantic City’s service economy” on Wednesday night.
“This is union territory,” the casino workers chanted as they marched along New Jersey Avenue amid car horns honking in support. Many held signs, including Linda Bragg, 56, of Atlantic City, who works at Bally’s. Hers read: “Atlantic City – Broken Promises.”
“We don’t want to be a forgotten town,” she said. “I grew up with all these people. We made millions for the state. It’s really heart-wrenching. A mess.”
The march, on the eve of three planned casino closures, started between the Revel and Showboat casino hotels on the Boardwalk at 6:30 and ended more than an hour later at New Shiloh Baptist Church on Atlantic Avenue. Several pastors and bishops held a prayer service in support of the employees, many of whom are members of their churches.
At the last vestige of the old National Tube Works in McKeesport, 117 years of pipemaking came to a quiet end on Friday.
U.S. Steel‘s McKeesport Tubular Operations, an electric resistance weld plant producing standard line pipe, will be “idled indefinitely,” company officials said.
In small groups throughout the day, employees filed out, carrying literal pink slips marking the end of U.S. Steel’s operation there.
Several approached for comment waved off a reporter.
Dick’s Sporting Goods has laid off hundreds of PGA professionals who provide golf instruction in its stores, underscoring the company’s concern about sagging sales of equipment and accessories as fewer Americans show interest in hitting the links.
The layoffs were not announced by the Findlay-based retailer but were confirmed by the PGA of America, which said Wednesday that 478 of its members were notified by the company that their services were no longer needed.
Dick’s, which operates more than 550 stores nationwide, did not immediately respond to email and phone messages. A PGA spokeswoman said it was disappointed in Dick’s decision and had reached out to the people affected.
“We are extremely disappointed by the news, as any time even one PGA member loses a job, we are extremely sensitive to such matters,” PGA spokeswoman Jamie Carbone said in an email on Wednesday.
COLLEGEVILLE, PA — Hundreds of students streamed out of the front doors of the school in a quiet wave around 8:30 a.m. More than 550 Perkiomen Valley High School students participated in a walk out to protest proposed budget cuts which could mean several teachers would lose their jobs.
Alexa Monteleone spent the morning of her last day of high school on the baseball field taking a stand to try and save her mother’s job.
“It impacted me a lot. (My mom) has been here for so long and she has been so helpful to the school for the past 13 years,” she said about how she felt when she heard her mother could lose her job.
Monteleone’s mother, Maureen, is a para-professional and wears many hats, according to her daughter.
The Pottstown School Board introduced the proposed budget for the 2014-15 school year at its Thursday night meeting, May 8, 2014. For a brief synopsis of the meeting and more information, visit Brandt’s blog Digital Notebook at http://evan-brandt.blogspot.com/. To see the Storify visit https://storify.com/PottstownNews/of-bushes-and-budgets?utm_source=embed&utm_medium=publisher&utm_campaign=embed-header
(Reuters) – Shamokin, Pennsylvania, tucked away in the coal country about 120 miles northwest of Philadelphia, has $800,000 of unpaid bills and can’t get a loan from a bank. It’s so broke, the gas service to city hall was temporarily cut off last month.
So the council for the city of 7,000 residents has agreed to seek entry to a state financial oversight program dating from 1987 that facilitates access to credit and permits the levying of certain taxes. Now, though, some lawmakers say the program is more like a trap than a benefit: municipalities get into it, and few get out.
Just seven of the 27 local governments to enter state oversight under the program, known as Act 47, have ever been released from it. As a result, legislators want to cap how long cities can stay under state oversight and, in the hardest cases, impose a municipal death penalty that amounts to disincorporation and a state takeover. The law was passed in a bid to help Pennsylvania cities battered by the decline of the American steel industry in the 1970s and ’80s.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – New Jersey’s largest newspaper is cutting about 170 jobs, including 25 percent of its newsroom positions, as it moves to consolidate operations and cut costs.
The Star-Ledger reported Thursday on NJ.com that the cuts will mean the loss of 40 of the 156 newsroom staffers at the paper.
Other journalists at the newspaper are being offered jobs at NJ Advance Media, a new company being created by parent company Advance Publications to provide content, advertising and marketing services to all of its papers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
An undisclosed number of Aetna Inc. employees, including case managers, received layoff notices Wednesday at the health insurer’s Blue Bell office. One employee said that seven out of 18 supervisors lost their jobs, and each supervisor oversaw a staff of 15 to 20.
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.
The layoffs, which cut 2 percent of the membership club’s U.S. employee count of about 116,000, mark the largest since 2010 when the Sam’s Club unit laid off 10,000 workers as it moved to outsource food demonstrations at its stores.
The cuts come as Sam’s Club strives to compete better with Costco Wholesale Corp. and online players like Amazon.com’s Prime membership service. They also follow layoffs announced by several other major retailers in recent weeks that include Macy’s Inc., J.C. Penney and Target Corp.
Struggling department-store operator J.C. Penney Co. announced it will cut 2,000 jobs and close 33 stores – including its stores in Exton and Burlington – as it tries to get back on the path to profitability.
The news raises concerns that Penney’s holiday season sales were not what the company hoped for and that the chain needs to do even more to recover from a turnaround plan that has had disastrous results.
J.C. Penney said earlier this month said it was pleased with its holiday results but declined to give sales figures, raising worries among Wall Street analysts about how the season actually fared.
Penney has 116,000 staffers and operates more than 1,100 stores.
Macy’s Inc. is cutting 2,500 jobs as part of a reorganization to sustain its profitability.
The announcement comes on the heels of a strong holiday shopping season for the department store chain.
Macy’s said Wednesday that it will reassign or transfer some workers and add some positions, leaving its workforce level at about 175,000.
The Cincinnati-based company plans to close five stores and open eight others, leaving it with 844 stores nationwide once the changes are complete.