Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Following a tumultuous reorganization meeting earlier in the week, longtime Reading School Board member Karen H. McCree has resigned from her position.
McCree said she submitted her resignation to board president Rebecca Acosta Wednesday. The school board released a statement about McCree’s resignation Friday.
Acosta and McCree have butted heads at recent public meetings. The tussle escalated to a heated shouting match at Monday’s reorganization meeting, when Acosta was named president.
McCree just began her 15th year as a member of the school board. Her last board meeting will be Dec. 18 and her resignation will take effect Jan. 3.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while and there have been some other reasons that I’ve decided that now is the time,” McCree said of her decision Friday.
HAZLETON, PA — Not only did a council majority avoid layoffs and deferred paydays for city workers Thursday night, the majority also amended Mayor Joe Yannuzzi’s proposed budget to include a property tax decrease.
Yannuzzi had said he would have to lay off City Hall employees and have police, firefighters and road crews work without pay if council didn’t adopt a stormwater maintenance fee because he already included it as revenue in the 2014 budget. And he needed a balanced budget in order to secure a tax anticipation note — a bank loan to tide the city over until tax revenues start to come in the spring. The loan also would cover salary expenses through the end of 2013.
At a meeting filled with outbursts, shouting matches and arguments among council members, council voted 3-2 to adopt the maintenance fee on a sliding scale that depends on the size of a property owner’s lot and other factors. The owner of an average size lot will have to pay a $25 fee in 2014.
The billions of dollars for road projects in the new state transportation law isn’t the only factor that could speed up traffic on Pennsylvania highways.
Deep in the details of the new law is a provision raising the state’s maximum speed limit to 70 mph. Some roads could see higher speed limits by next summer, PennDOT said.
Speed limits will not automatically jump around the state. But PennDOT and Pennsylvania Turnpike officials now have the option to increase the limits on a case-by-case basis.
The agencies must study safety and traffic on the roads to determine if they can accommodate a higher limit.
“It’s probably going to take at least six months to do this,” said Rich Kirkpatrick, acting PennDOT press secretary. “Drivers will not likely see any changes before the end of June.”
President Bill Clinton with Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela, who became one of the world’s most beloved statesmen and a colossus of the 20th century when he emerged from 27 years in prison to negotiate an end to white minority rule in South Africa, has died. He was 95.
South African President Jacob Zuma made the announcement at a news conference late Thursday, saying “we’ve lost our greatest son.”
His death closed the final chapter in South Africa’s struggle to cast off apartheid, leaving the world with indelible memories of a man of astonishing grace and good humor. Rock concerts celebrated his birthday. Hollywood stars glorified him on screen. And his regal bearing, graying hair and raspy voice made him instantly recognizable across the globe.
As South Africa’s first black president, the ex-boxer, lawyer and prisoner No. 46664 paved the way to racial reconciliation with well-chosen gestures of forgiveness. He lunched with the prosecutor who sent him to jail, sang the apartheid-era Afrikaans anthem at his inauguration, and traveled hundreds of miles to have tea with the widow of Hendrik Verwoerd, the prime minister at the time he was imprisoned.
NEW YORK (MainStreet) The law of the land now goes as follows: either have healthcare insurance or pay a fine. Yet more than one in four Americans say they would rather pony up the penalty. A new Gallup poll reveals that 28% of those surveyed have no intention of signing up for health insurance, as required by the Affordable Care Act and will pay the fine instead.
The penalty in 2014 for remaining uninsured is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child or 1% of taxable income (up to $285 for a family), whichever is greater.
Fully 17% of U.S. adults currently do not have health insurance, according to Gallup. With the self-proclaimed holdouts who say they will refuse coverage, at least 5% of all U.S. adults will remain uninsured.
According to the nearly 4,000 interviews conducted with uninsured Americans since September, more than one quarter (26%) under the age of 30 say they are more likely to pay the fine, compared with 30% of those aged 30 and older.
Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It didn’t take long for the newest incarnation of the Reading School Board to spectacularly explode.
There were accusations and gavel banging. There were angrily mumbled threats. And there was a whole lot of screaming and yelling.
What started as a welcoming of the board’s newest members Monday night quickly devolved into a heated shouting match, pitting newly elected board president Rebecca Acosta versus long-time board member Karen H. McCree.
The tinder was set early during the board’s annual re-organizational meeting, with McCree questioning the two presidential candidates – Acosta and incumbent president Pierre V. Cooper – about their leadership experience and plans for the future.
Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The rift between Mohnton‘s fire crew and the social club that oversees it was years in the making.
But the catalyst, both sides agree, was a dispute over the Friendship Fire Company No. 2 of Mohnton’s stand selling waffles and ice cream at Gov. Mifflin Community Days.
The fire crew and social club clashed over where fundraising proceeds should go and who should be allowed to volunteer at the stand. Simmering tensions between the two factions boiled over, leading to the first of back-to-back suspensions of Fire Chief Allen Detwiler.
Now Detwiler and his volunteer engine crew are asking borough government to separate the department and social club.
Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In a municipality already reeling from a controversy involving its police department, Monroeville‘s municipal manager was placed on administrative leave with pay Tuesday evening and could be completely removed from her position Jan. 6.
At a special council meeting, a four-member quorum voted to suspend longtime employee Lynette McKinney. Joe Sedlak was appointed acting manager.
Of those present, councilmen Steve Duncan, Nick Gresock and Jim Johns voted for her suspension, with member Bernhard Erb abstaining. Mr. Johns said he made the motion to slow Ms. McKinney’s spending.
Solicitor Bruce Dice said the process to legally remove the manager is intricate, though her duties ceased Tuesday night.
HAZLETON, PA — About 50 of the city’s 110 employees might be furloughed as early as Monday and the city is in danger of defaulting on its bills because of a $500,000 budget deficit.
At a press conference Monday, Mayor Joe Yannuzzi unveiled the latest in a string of the city’s financial woes that started last year when it had to raise the real estate tax by 45 percent. As it stands, non-essential employees — primarily office personnel and some public works employees — will not show up for work Monday and City Hall will be closed.
Firefighters and police will work regular shifts and road crews will still plow snow from the streets, Yannuzzi said.
A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
City Council on Monday approved a 2014 budget of $84.4 million that leaves most tax rates the same, but puts about $1.5 million into a contingency fund that may be needed to pay for its recycling program.
Council also voted 6-1 to turn down Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer’s request to switch to a land-value tax that he said would spur economic development.
Councilman Jeffrey S. Waltman Sr. voted for the move, which Spencer had called his signature initiative.
The land-value tax would have lowered the tax rate on each property’s buildings by 20 percent a year until it’s entirely eliminated, but make up for that by raising the tax rate on land.
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
University of Scranton students Bridget McVeigh and Ashley Opalka are apartment hunting with two criteria in mind: proximity to campus and lower prices than the university’s dorms.
The pair were alarmed city landlords are poised to hike rents in response to a proposed 2014 Scranton budget that would raise property taxes 56.7 percent, garbage fees 68.5 percent and rental registration fees from $50 to $150 per structure and $15 to $50 per unit.
Landlord Carol Smurl said she tries “to be compassionate to the tenants because they’re on a fixed income,” but she and her husband cannot afford to absorb that kind of increase.
Normally, Mrs. Smurl waits until tenants move out to raise the rent or tries to delay passing increased costs on for two to three years at her nine properties.
Riders board Philadelphia’s Broad Street Subway on the Southbound platform of City Hall Station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
WHAT DO YOU get for the corporate hot spot that seems like it has everything?
How ’bout some underground transit?
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey called yesterday for extending SEPTA’s Broad Street subway line into the Navy Yard, given the area’s dramatic rebirth as a sprawling office park that’s home to about 10,000 workers.
Casey sent a letter to Brigid Hynes-Cherin, the Federal Transportation Agency’s (FTA) regional administrator, urging her to discuss the potential project with SEPTA, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 and the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades.
Location of Limerick Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
LIMERICK TOWNSHIP, PA — In a close vote, the township supervisors voted at Tuesday night’s meeting to advertise a proposed budget with a small property tax increase.
The $23,734,327 budget carries a tax increase of 5.75 percent to close a funding gap of $157,720. An owner with a property assessed at the township’s average of $150,000 would see a $16 increase on their tax bill yearly.
As such, the town’s mill rate would stand at 2.004.
The dividing line on the 3-2 vote was whether to close the funding gap using reserves or with a tax increase.
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The newly formed City of Reading Revitalization and Improvement Zone Authority held its inaugural meeting Wednesday night to outline its agenda over the next week.
The authority will be working to identify a potential city revitalization and improvement zone.
The CRIZ program was created by recent state legislation. The state departments of Revenue, Community and Economic Development and the Governor’s Office of Budget administer the program.
A CRIZ zone is an area of up to 130 acres comprising parcels that will provide economic development and job creation within a city. All new state and local taxes collected within the CRIZ will be used to repay debt service to stimulate economic development projects within the zone.
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After losing his appeal, the owner of the first apartment shutdown by Wilkes-Barre‘s one-strike ordinance said he’s taking the city to court.
Red Hill resident Adam Peters, whose rental unit at 216 Carlisle St. was closed by the city in September after his tenant was arrested for dealing drugs, asked for the penalty to be repealed during a hearing at city hall Tuesday. The housing appeals board unanimously upheld the first use of the city’s one-strike ordinance, which allows it to shut down rental properties for six months if they’re the location of a drug or weapons crime.
Peters said he’ll take his appeal to a judge in Luzerne County court. Peters’ attorney John Bradley said he’s also going to challenge the ordinance’s constitutionality. He hasn’t decided whether he’ll do so in county or federal court.
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
York City Mayor Kim Bracey is proposing a 2014 budget that does not increase property taxes.
The proposal is now in the hands of the York City Council, which has scheduled two hearings in early December to discuss the budget. It is scheduled to be adopted at the council’s Tuesday, Dec. 17 meeting.
“This was a tough budget,” Bracey said Tuesday at a press conference.
The city’s costs continue to rise, and revenues haven’t kept pace, Bracey said. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s “antiquated” local-government system greatly limits the options for officials in third-class cities like York, she said.