Former York City Financial Officer Says Mayor Asked Him To Resign

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

York City’s former top financial officer said the city’s mayor showed up at his house on a Sunday in April and asked for his resignation.

This week, former business administrator Michael O’Rourke said Mayor Kim Bracey did not provide an explanation for the request, and he still does not know the reason.

“I asked her why, and she said, ‘I just want to make a change,'” O’Rourke said.

That contradicts Bracey’s original characterization of the situation.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_25682926/former-york-city-financial-officer-says-mayor-asked

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Montgomery County Quarterly Report Indicates Generally Favorable Outlook

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN — Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Uri Monson’s quarterly report highlighted a couple key points — the first time the county’s fund balance grew at all since 2007 and the first Annual Required Contribution (ARC) to the pension fund since the same year.

Details were laid out during Thursday morning’s bi-monthly meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.

“Based on the Q1 revenue results, the county now projects to have an annual operating surplus for the year of over $2.6 million, on top of the nearly $2.6 million in reserves set aside to grow the fund balance,” said Monson.

“This would mark the first year-over-year increase in the fund balance since 2007.”

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130419/NEWS01/130419441/county-quarterly-report-indicates-generally-favorable-outlook#full_story

Colebrookdale Agrees To Continue Police Merger Discussions

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

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

COLEBROOKDALE — Township commissioners are in agreement to continue talks about a possible merger between the Boyertown and Colebrookdale police departments.

The commissioners reviewed a preliminary budget drawn up by the managers of both jurisdictions and unanimously agreed at their Feb. 19 meeting to move ahead in discussions with Boyertown borough officials.

With an estimated budget of nearly $2 million, the commissioners discussed ways of combining staff and appropriating costs, including how to fund pension plans. A meeting with pension representatives from both Boyertown and Colebrookdale is scheduled for March 28.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130220/NEWS01/130229904/colebrookdale-agrees-to-continue-police-merger-discussions#full_story

Pa. Budget Chief Says Pension Reforms Essential

HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett will “very likely” propose cutting future pension benefits for current school employees and state workers in the state budget plan he will present to lawmakers next week, his chief budget adviser said Monday.

Budget Secretary Charles Zogby, all but confirming a cost-cutting approach that the administration first floated last fall despite questions about its legality, said decisive steps must be taken to rein in taxpayers’ fast-growing share of pension costs.

“We’ve got to pay for our obligations and we need to look at a rebalancing of our pension obligations … if we’re going to meet our needs without inflicting deep cuts elsewhere in the budget,” he said at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=446630

Exeter School District Budget Could Mean 5.8 Percent Tax Increase

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

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

Faced with rising employee and charter school costs, Exeter School officials are preparing a preliminary budget for approval in February that raises taxes to the maximum amount allowed by the state.

The district is looking at raising taxes 1.7435 mills, to 31.8466 mills. The tax bill for a property assessed at $100,000 would increase about $175 to $3,185.

That would be a 5.8 percent increase. The state puts a 2.2 percent cap on district tax increases this year, but the district anticipates ceiling exceptions for pension, special education and construction costs.

The preliminary 2013-14 budget currently totals $67.83 million, about $5 million greater than this year’s. Among the reasons for the difference are $1.5 million in increased pension costs and $1.1 million in increased wage costs.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=444468

New Report Warns Of Looming Pennsylvania Pension Shortfall

HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett‘s budget office indicated Monday that the governor may attempt to reduce the pensions of current public employees, a politically volatile and legally questionable solution to what has become a $41 billion unfunded liability.

In a new report on the state’s two large public-sector pensions, the budget office warned of the potential for higher taxes, program cuts, lower business growth and steeper borrowing costs because of the state’s financial obligations toward the State Employees’ Retirement System and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System.

The financial pressures from the pension systems have loomed over state finances for more than a decade, and Corbett, a Republican, repeatedly has spoken of a desire to make changes to them.

The report says higher taxes “should be off the table,” but reductions in prospective benefits for current employees should be considered.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=431511

Arbitrators Slash Newer Reading Police Officers’ Pay, Benefits

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

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

City police, especially those hired this year and in the future, will take major pay and benefit cuts now and when they retire, according to a five-year contract handed down Friday by a panel of arbitrators.

The panel froze officers’ salaries and step increases for three years and cut starting salaries, vacation time and sick leave in the new contract, which is retroactive to January 2012.

In setting the terms, the panel followed the city’s Act 47 financial recovery plan to cut millions of dollars a year from police costs.

For employees hired before the old contract expired at the end of 2011, the panel kept that contract’s pension benefits – up to 70 percent of working salaries, the ability to buy years of service to raise that pension, and city-paid retiree health insurance.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=428754

Reading Considers Consultant’s Proposal For Budget

The city of Reading and its outside consultants have come up with a new tax plan using a complex and untested state law to pay for the 49 percent hike in pension contributions the state is requiring it to make in 2013.

Essentially, Act 205 says cities facing sudden dramatic pension-cost increases can levy a so-called distressed pension tax, either as a separate property tax or a separate earned income tax. But every nickel collected has to be used to pay off that obligation, not spent anywhere else.

At City Council’s Wednesday night budget session, the consultants recommended applying it to the earned-income tax – using the same rate for both residents and commuters – since the administration and council don’t like the 15 percent property tax hike that’s already in the budget.

Gordon Mann, a consultant for Public Financial Management who is leading the team, said the tax cap is based on a complex formula comparing pension contributions and city payroll for three years.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=424643

Reading Gets Unexpected $1.3 Million

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

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

Reading’s coffers got a welcome infusion of $1.3 million due to an excess of payments to the police and fire department pension funds.

City Council voted to transfer the money to the general fund at Monday’s meeting.

The excess, detected in a recent audit, was due to a miscalculation in allocations to the pension funds.

Council budgeted pension contributions of all police and firefighters, including those in the Deferred Pension Retirement Program, or DROP.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=411767

110-Year-Old Pa. Widow Gets WWI Benefits Boost

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Cambria County

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

EBENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A 110-year-old Pennsylvania widow is getting a benefits boost because of her husband’s World War I service.

Family members say Alda Collins is now getting about $1,000 a month to assist with her stay at a nursing home near Ebensburg. She had been getting $36 a month.

Her son tells the Daily American of Somerset (http://bit.ly/OURXLU) that Collins lived by herself in a trailer until she was 106.  She can use a walker, feeds herself and knows the Pirates are in second place.

Read more: http://hosted2.ap.org/PATOW/5715a04f327d44b9b9ab039463c2d9db/Article_2012-08-13-World%20War%20I-Benefits/id-949930100c08497dae95b1159d0873fb

America’s Best Affordable Places To Retire

Reading's Pagoda seen from Skyline Drive

Image via Wikipedia

A new survey of great places to live if you are retired.  Number 7 – Reading, PA!  The one and only Pennsylvania location in a mostly Florida and Arizona list.  Click on the link below to see all the winners!

http://images.businessweek.com/ss/09/07/0702_affordable_places_to_retire/8.htm