Pottstown Halloween Parade Costs Could Be Lowered With Help From Neighboring Police

POTTSTOWN, PA — The primary cost for putting on the Halloween Parade each year, according to organizers, is the roughly $5,000 cost of paying the police for crowd control.

Currently, a fund-raising drive is underway to ensure there is enough money in the kitty to pay that cost for the Oct. 22 event.

But there may be another way to drive the cost down.

During a meeting of the Pottstown Metropolitan Area Regional Planning Committee, Upper Pottsgrove Township Commissioners Chairman Elwood Taylor had a suggestions: “what if police from surrounding towns helped on the night of the parade?”

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20141001/pottstown-halloween-parade-costs-could-be-lowered-with-help-from-neighboring-police

Centre Region Council Of Governments Breaks Down Spending Blueprint For Municipalities

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

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

— In a unanimous vote, members of the Centre Region Council of Governments agreed to send the 2015 program plan to the municipalities for review and comment.

The 257-page plan is “intended to provide the General Forum with an explanation of each regional program’s history, services, current issues, midyear financial status, and proposed programmatic and financial changes for 2015.”

This is the 13th plan to be created since the program began in 2001.

“It’s a tool to give elected officials an early heads up about what we’re proposing for the new year,” said COG Executive Director Jim Steff. “So instead of giving them a budget in October and say ‘You guys need to vote on this in November,’ they get this information much earlier.

Parks Director Loss Mourned In Pottstown

POTTSTOWN — When New Year’s Day revelers gather this morning in Riverfront Park and take a moment to mourn the unexpected passing of borough Parks and Recreation Director Eileen Schlegel, they will become part of a much larger group of people who have expressed shock and sadness at her passing.

Schlegel died unexpectedly Saturday at her home in the borough.

She was 65.

“This is truly a loss to the Pottstown community,” Crystal Williams, former director at the Ricketts Community Center, posted on The Mercury Facebook page.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131231/parks-director-loss-mourned-in-pottstown

Slice Of Shale Pie Feeds Projects

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Soon the playground at Gring’s Mill Recreation Area will be out of the woods, literally and figuratively.

Credit goes to an issue not likely to hit Berks County directly: drilling for natural gas.

County officials recently were told they could expect a check any day for $345,000 from the impact fees gas producers pay the state. That’s on top of the $349,068 they received last year.  The money must be spent for parks and recreation projects.

The money enables the county to bump up the timetable for projects identified in the parks department’s five-year plan, and avoid spending taxpayer money on them, county Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt said.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=486931

Bern Section Of Schuylkill River Trail To Be Built

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

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

It’s taken nearly five years to get to this point, but a half-mile walking trail along the Schuylkill River in Bern Township will be built by summer.

“It will be nice for people to get out on the trail,” Bern Township Manager Brian Potts said. “It’s picturesque in the summertime. It’s a nice location. Hopefully, people will enjoy it.”

The idea for the trail started in 1996, as Bern officials began working on a comprehensive parks and recreation plan. Potts said the trail was discussed again in the middle of the last decade, but Bern officials seriously began work on the project in 2007.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=453648

Reading To Take Proposals To Run Egelman Park; Current Operator Objects

Egelman Park is one of the city’s most valuable parks, so it’s time to end the current lease and take proposals from new groups to run it this summer, City Council and Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer’s administration agreed Monday.

That didn’t sit well with Randy Gaston, who has a 25-year lease that runs through 2018.

He and his East Reading Athletic Association have run the Egelman concessions and baseball fields for 20 years.

Contacted after the meeting, Gaston said he can’t run the youth baseball program if he doesn’t have a field.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=452211

West Reading Garden Sprouts A Community

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Under the sweltering sun at West Reading’s community garden, Lore DeHart offered up her arugula by the bundle.

As it turns out, she’s found, she’s not so big a fan of it after all.

Another thing she’s learned? Her radishes could use some work.

With two plots to tend to, it’s been a trial-and-error process for the retired Exeter School District teacher who, despite growing up on 6 acres of land, counts herself a novice among her fellow gardeners at the South Second Avenue and Chestnut Street garden.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=397904

Manhattan’s High Line Park – 7 Acres In The Sky

What do you do with an abandoned elevated railroad that runs 1.5 miles through the heart of Manhattan?  Turn it into a 7-acre urban park, of course.

Watch this amazing video about the creation of an oasis in the middle of the nation’s largest city.  It goes to show what community involvement and a desire to preserve the past, in a way that benefits present and future generations, can do.

For more information about this amazing space, click here: http://www.thehighline.org/

Pottstown Borough Budget Meeting

Today, November 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm, Pottstown Borough Council and borough staff discussed the proposed 2011 borough budget.

I must commend Jason, Janice, Councilor Weand, the Finance Committee and our borough staff for the effort they put into finding ways to cut costs and maintain services.  I do not think it is possible to ask Jason a question he can not answer.  Janice Lee has more than earned her salary by walking into the abyss aka borough finances and taking the bull by the horns!  So much has been accomplished to get our financial house in order.  As I said in an earlier post, accounting is boring to write about however, the changes implemented by Jason, Janice and Finance will pay huge dividends down the road.  We now have a clearer financial picture than ever before.  Frankly, things are not all that bleak now that Generally Accepted Accounting Principals have been returned to borough hall.

Council asked some tough questions of Jason, Janice and the department heads.  I was impressed with how well the questions were answered and the manner with which our borough staff handled themselves.

The bottom line is that council unanimously approved the 2011 budget with a 3.1% tax increase.  The increase equates to $25.66 per year on a home assessed at $85,000.  We have a $177,000 deficit that unfortunately makes this necessary.  The increase can go down if more spending cuts are found or unexpected revenue comes in before the end of the year.  However, the increase can not go any higher than 3.1%.  The projected property tax collection rate is 92% for 2010.

Getting to a zero tax increase would mean selling a park, laying off Parks and Recreation staff, cutting programs or messing with the paid driver’s health benefits in the Fire Department.  Our parks are a big plus for existing borough residents and attracting new residents.  We can barely maintain our parks system with the staff we have and cutting programs affects the quality of life for our residents.  Fire Department drivers can not afford to pay their health benefits at their current salary levels.  It is not their fault costs are skyrocketing.

The assessed value of all Pottstown real estate came in a million dollars higher than projected which also helped the process.  The rate of decline in assessed property value seems to be leveling off and council is hopeful that this trend may reverse itself as some development projects in the pipeline are completed.  Unfortunately, the assessed property value of Pottstown still declined $1.9 million dollars from last year.  This brings in less tax revenue. 

PCTV has agreed to reduce their management fee to $331,000.  The borough can ill afford to absorb their $147,000 revenue shortfall so going forward they need to break even.  PCTV has lost revenue because of the recession and now when FIOS comes to Pottstown, Verizon will not allow PCTV to be a for-profit community access channel.  PCTV could potentially lose 25% of their viewers as residents switch from Comcast to Verizon.  Council will be scrutinizing PCTV very closely in 2011.  PCTV is trying to get grant money, however, until such time as a grant is received, they will still continue to struggle.