York Mayor Kim Bracey: 5 Game Changers That Could Save York (Column)

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

As the 2015 budget season approaches, it is my duty to talk straight about our city’s fiscal challenges and pension legacy costs that have been growing since before the turn of this century. While laying out the dire conditions, leadership requires us to hold out meaningful hope by advocating for bold measures. Long term fiscal game-changers can stabilize our property taxes while enabling us to continue providing quality public services and infrastructure that our people deserve and demand.

At times, I feel like a night watchman of earlier centuries who witnesses a spreading fire and vigorously shouts and rings the bell to alert citizens of the imminent crisis. During the last two city administrations, we’ve been warning of the growing fiscal crisis for 13 years, and we’ve done as much as we can internally to make our budget process transparent, to seek sound recommendations from outside experts, to cut costs, and to be fiscally responsible. The list is extensive.

• In 2003, under Mayor Brenner, our city initiated its first open budget hearings, an annual tradition that continues to this year.

• In 2006, our city was one of the very first in the state to enter the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Early Intervention Program, which provided an analysis of York’s finances by outside experts. Their analysis concluded that York’s financial controls and management were strong but that systemic constraints beyond its control were leading to out-of-control costs. Recommendations included implementing a parking tax, which was done.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_26165619/kim-bracey-5-game-changers-that-could-save

Weather Will Be A Bit Cooler Next Week, But Nowhere Near Icy

The logo of the United States National Weather...

The logo of the United States National Weather Service. The source page states that is not an “official” version but it looks very close to the version used on NWS’s website. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The term “polar vortex” has crept back into the news as a mass of cooler air threatens to descend on the Great Lakes and farther south. But experts are dismissing that talk as so much, uh, hot air.

If the long-range forecasts hold true — and they often don’t — it’ll be a bit cooler than normal and you won’t have to run the air conditioner. That’s about it.

“I would shy away from using the term polar vortex,” said Tim Axford, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Pittsburgh. “Over the past six months that term has been used a lot and gotten a lot of media buzz for something that happens quite often.”

What may happen is a dip in the air currents that will send cooler air from Canada, giving us a few days of high and low temperatures about 10 degrees below normal, Mr. Axford said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2014/07/12/Weather-will-be-a-bit-cooler-next-week-not-nowhere-near-icy/stories/201407120015#ixzz37GuhWCLC

York Lawmaker: CRIZ Decision A ‘Setback’

Map of York County, Pennsylvania, United State...

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

The chance that York City will get a shot at a City Revitalization Improvement Zone designation this year just got much slimmer.

During the debate over the state’s 2014-15 spending plan, lawmakers nixed a proposal that would have opened the next round of CRIZ applications to more cities earlier than originally planned.

The version of the fiscal code approved by the state Senate included three new CRIZ designations in 2014 and two more in 2015, said state Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City.

But, Schreiber said, Republican members of the House Rules Committee voted to remove “anything having to do with CRIZ” from its version of the fiscal code, a companion bill to the state’s annual budget.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_26094527/york-lawmaker-criz-decision-setback

Geisinger Health System Freezes Open Positions

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montour County

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

Geisinger Health System this spring temporarily froze about 400 open positions, bracing for an estimated $50 million reduction in profitability in fiscal year 2015.

The decision reflects cuts in federal reimbursement payments and the health system’s effort to extensively evaluate each opening, officials said.

About 225 positions remain unfilled, with about 30 percent of those jobs located in Northeastern Pennsylvania, said chief human resource officer Amy Brayford in an emailed statement.

She said the openings span the entire health system, which serves more than 2.6 million residents across 44 counties in central and Northeastern Pennsylvania. Most of the positions do not provide direct patient care.

Geisinger Health System employs about 21,000 people.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/geisinger-freezes-open-positions-1.1714049

Transportation Plan Calls For $4.7 Billion For Southwestern Pennsylvania

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 draft plan for improvements to the region’s transportation system envisions $4.7 billion in spending in the 10 counties of southwestern Pennsylvania in the next four years, a 52 percent increase from the current four-year plan.

The plan for fiscal years 2015 through 2018 signals a reversal of years of diminished spending on infrastructure and public transit, bolstered by the funding bill that the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett enacted last fall. The draft Transportation Improvement Plan was released last week by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, a regional planning agency.

“From my perspective, we were able to add significant projects that were simply unaffordable in the last TIP update,” said Dan Cessna, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s district executive for Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties.

Among them is a $79 million rehabilitation of the Liberty Bridge in Downtown Pittsburgh, which at present is weight-restricted and rated structurally deficient, meaning its components are deteriorated but not yet unsafe. Numerous smaller bridge and paving projects were added as well, he said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/frontpage/2014/06/23/Plan-calls-for-boost-for-southwestern-Pa-transportation/stories/201406230085#ixzz35UedvrMx

Going It Alone: America’s Top 15 Hubs For Solo Entrepreneurs

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  A big congrats to Allentown, Pennsylvania’s third largest city and metropolitan area, for being the only Pennsylvania city on the list.  Big things are going on in the Lehigh Valley, making us Pennsylvania Proud :).

Solopreneurs (a mash-up of the words “solo” and “entrepreneurs”) may freelance, consult, coach, offer services or sell products. The defining characteristic is that whatever they do, they do it without the help of a single employee. And that means they do everything, from product design to marketing to customer service, whether it’s fun or not.

$1 Trillion in Revenue
No matter what they make, sell or do, solopreneurs are becoming more common. In 2012, the latest year for which data is available, the U.S. economy had a total of 22.7 million solo businesses, a gain of almost 245,000 from 2011. Those businesses had total revenue of $1 trillion (yep, trillion) in 2012, up from $41.3 billion in 2011.

These statistics made us wonder. Where is solopreneurship especially popular? Where is it boosting the local economy? Where are solopreneurs reaping the most financial rewards?

See the list and read more: http://blog.sparefoot.com/6384-top-places-for-solo-entrepreneurs/

Report: Foreign Dollars Bring Many Jobs To Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Area

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Foreign direct investment has increased jobs in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

It accounted for 14,050 jobs in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in 2011, an increase of about 4,300 in the past two decades, according to a new report that looked at data for the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

That’s 6.2 percent of total private sector employment, above the national rate of 5 percent.

The data comes from a new report that tries to gauge the local impact of “Foreign Direct Investment,” defined as a company in a foreign country investing enough to gain a controlling share of an American company.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1479223/Report:-Foreign-dollars-bring-area-jobs

Pennsylvania’s Stagnant 2013 Growth Has Political Repercussions

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania’‍s economy stalled last year, according to a report from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Pennsylvania’‍s real gross domestic product, an indicator of general economic conditions, grew just 0.7 percent in 2013. Only three states and Washington, D.C., saw slower growth.

Pennsylvania was also out-performed by its neighbors, West Virginia and Ohio, which saw 5.1 and 1.8 percent growth respectively. West Virginia has now outgrown Pennsylvania for six straight years, and Ohio has for two. Even struggling New Jersey beat out the Keystone State, posting 1.1 percent growth.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/06/19/Pennsylvania-s-stagnant-2013-growth-has-political-repercussions/stories/201406190114#ixzz356R8ZzWX

York County’s Cherry Crop ‘Almost Non-Existent’ This Year, Growers Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

A homemade cherry pie or a warm cherry pudding made with locally grown, fresh picked York County cherries might not be happening this year.

“Almost non-existent,” is the answer from local growers questioned about this year’s crop.

The bad news is there are almost no local sweet or sour cherries to be found.

Blame it on those two nights in April when the temperature dipped to 24 degrees.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_25986785/york-countys-cherry-crop-almost-non-existent-this

Cross-State Cost On Pennsylvania Turnpike In 2015: $46.05

Pennsylvania Turnpike Ticket from the Warrenda...

Pennsylvania Turnpike Ticket from the Warrendale (30) Toll Stop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike will increase 5 percent in 2015, effective Jan. 4.

The decision by the Turnpike Commission Tuesday to hike tolls for the seventh year in a row means the cash toll to drive from the Ohio border to the New Jersey border will be $46.05 for passenger cars, up from the current $43.85

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140618_Cross-state_cost_on_Pa__Turnpike_in_2015___46_05.html#oMutHh3mv0r47KXy.99

‘Devastating For Our Industry’: Pig Virus Affects Local Farmers, Market Prices, Grange Fair

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

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

When Charlie Hall sells pigs, customers never set foot on his Unionville-area farm.

“We actually meet them half a mile away and transfer the pigs directly from one trailer to another,” Hall said.

The threat of a growing pig disease has local farmers embracing biosecurity measures to protect their farms and livelihoods.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PEDv, is pushing up pork prices and prompting action on the national level.

Pennsylvania Partners In The Arts News Project Stream Grant Deadline June 20th

ImageProxy (9)The Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA) 2014-2015 Project Stream will provide funds of up to $2,500 to eligible individuals, community groups, and non-profit organizations to conduct arts projects. These projects must take place between September 1, 2014 and August 31, 2015, and each project (a single event or a series of activities) must have a significant public component.

The Lehigh Valley Arts Council has accepted project grant requests from as many as 60 applicants in one cycle; and in the most recent fiscal year, we awarded grants to 24 projects (click HERE to view the awards). Activities successfully receiving PPA project funding have reached a wide range of constituents, from young children to senior citizens, and this year’s projects are engaging audiences in activities that include visual arts exhibitions; photography; musical performances from opera to jazz; documentary film; storytelling and dance.

The deadline for the next round of Project Stream grants is June 20th, so apply today!For more information on the PPA, the criteria and guidelines for applying to Project Stream, and review of the online application process, view the PPA Project Stream Prezi presentation (requires Adobe Flashplayer).

For more information on the PPA visit: www.lvartscouncil.org/programs

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Lewis Katz, ‘The Most Unique Man I Ever Met’

Lewis Katz would tell you he was just a kid from Camden who grew up to walk with presidents.

He was consistent in his passions, blunt in his opinions, a man who adored his family, detested dishonesty, and was as comfortable in $1,100 hand-made Italian shirts as he was in loud green sneakers.

He made his own fortune, owned magnificent homes in New York, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and never lost his affection for the gravelly streets of the city where he was raised.

Mr. Katz, 72, whose enormous wealth never obscured his devotion to the less fortunate or his love of the underdog, was killed on Saturday in a plane crash in Massachusetts.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/obituaries/20140602_Lewis_Katz___The_most_unique_man_I_ever_met_.html#4qfCARKdFtudIIFL.99

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Blockbuster Movie Could Make 2014 Pittsburgh’s Best Year For Film, TV Production

A blockbuster movie just approved for a multimillion-dollar Pennsylvania film tax credit could make 2014 Pittsburgh’s biggest year yet for film and TV production — as long as the project stays on track after losing its star.

Actor Will Smith backed out of the title role in “Brilliance” on Thursday as Legendary Pictures learned it had been awarded a $19.5 million tax credit by the Pennsylvania Film Office, putting the movie’s cost somewhere around $100 million.

“If the level of interest continues, this is setting up to be the biggest year we’ve ever had,” said Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office. She declined to comment on “Brilliance.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6202360-74/film-pittsburgh-tax#ixzz33J7wDHXV
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

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Pottsgrove Manor Tto Host “A Visit From The Mantuamaker”

738_sewing1Pottstown, PA – On Saturday, June 14, 2014 from 11:00am to 3:00pm, historic Pottsgrove Manor will host a living history program, “A Visit from the Mantuamaker.”

As a wealthy family, the Pottses would have likely hired a professional “mantuamaker”—that is a dressmaker—to cut out, fit, and sew gowns for Mrs. Potts and her daughters. In this program, the Manor’s staff and volunteers will demonstrate the process of creating a gown from scratch, as well as other aspects of sewing and tailoring colonial garments. They will also be dressed in reproduction 18th-century clothing, giving visitors an up-close look at the fashion of the era. Visitors of all ages can try their hand at some of the needlework techniques and play dress-up in replica 18th-century clothing.

This program is being held in conjunction with the Manor’s current exhibit of both reproduction and original 18th-century garments, “To the Manor Worn: Clothing the 18th-Century Household,” which can be toured on the hour during the program. There is a suggested donation of $2 per person for this program. The museum shop will also be open throughout the event and will be having a special one-day-only sale—10% off all sewing-related items!

The clothing exhibit can also be toured during regular museum hours through November 2, 2014: Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm and Sunday from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Tours are given on the hour. The last tour of the day begins at 3:00pm. The site is closed Mondays and major holidays. Groups of ten or more should pre-register by calling 610-326-4014.

Pottsgrove Manor is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Pottsgrove Manor is operated by Montgomery County under the direction of the Parks, Trails, and Historic Sites Division of the Assets and Infrastructure Department. For more information, please call 610-326-4014, or visit the website at www.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor. Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pottsgrovemanor.

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After Decades, Dirty Indiana County Power Plant To Get Clean

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Indiana County

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

(AP) Three years ago, the operators of one of the nation’s dirtiest coal-fired power plants warned of “immediate and devastating” consequences from the Obama administration’s push to clean up pollution from coal.

Faced with cutting sulfur dioxide pollution blowing into downwind states by 80 percent in less than a year, lawyers for EME Homer City Generation L.P. sued the Environmental Protection Agency to block the rule, saying it would cause it grave harm and bring a painful spike in electricity bills.

None of those dire predictions came to pass.

Instead, the massive western Pennsylvania power plant is expected in a few years to turn from one of the worst polluters in the country to a model for how coal-fired power plants can slash pollution.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/appanews/531925697423954165349272/After-decades-dirty-power-plant-to-get-clean

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Home Values In Philadelphia Region Tumble, Analysis Shows

Full recovery continued to elude the Philadelphia region’s residential real estate market in the first quarter of this year, as the value of a typical home fell 4.9 percent from the last three months of 2013.

University of Pennsylvania economist Kevin Gillen, who analyzed data from 11 area counties for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, said Tuesday that with the latest decline, average house prices in the region are “barely above the post-bubble bottom they hit two years ago.”

While sales of 11,000 houses regionally was 10 percent above the same quarter of 2013, the numbers are 41 percent below what Gillen considers the “normal historic average.”

Suburban price declines were greater than the city’s during the quarter – 5.3 percent versus 4 percent, Gillen said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/20140528_Home_values_in_region_tumble__analysis_shows.html#xlQrIJ1HYPRfOJyx.99

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Wolf vs. Corbett: 5 Issues They’ll Tussle Over Between Now And November

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The campaigns for Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf traded shots over education funding, natural gas drilling and other issues before Wolf won his party’s nomination.

Voters can expect a lot more of that before Nov. 4.

“I think it’s going to be a long, grueling contest, in which both candidates are going to have to defend an awful lot about their records,” said G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

Corbett has had lower approval ratings than Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell had at the same points in their first terms. In a January poll from Franklin & Marshall College, 23 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters said Corbett was doing an “excellent” or “good” job as governor.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/politics/ci_25828929/wolf-v-corbett-5-issues-theyll-tussle-over

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Gains And Losses In Philadelphia Region’s Population

A number of communities in the region’s Pennsylvania suburbs, notably in Chester and Montgomery Counties, grew substantially between April 2010 and July 2013, Census Bureau population estimates released Thursday show.

In Chester County, there were noteworthy upticks in municipalities such as Malvern, West Chester, East Brandywine, and West Goshen, and the same was true in Chester/Delaware County border towns such as Bethel and Chadds Ford. In central Montgomery County, Upper Hanover, Towamencin, and Salford were among the burgeoning towns.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia remained the fifth-largest U.S. city, with a population estimated at 1.553 million through July 2013, an increase of just over 27,000 from April 2010. It was the seventh year in a row of population growth, the census data showed.

(Population estimates for neighborhoods within the city limits will not be available until December.)

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140523_Gains_and_losses_in_Phila__region_s_population.html#MHpPEge1UgkCE6DR.99

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