Housing Development Planned In Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — In a few months, the vacant building on Dana Street that formerly housed First Hospital will be gone. A housing development is planned in its place.

The Wyoming Valley Health and Education Foundation is demolishing properties on Dana, Grove and McCarragher streets in the Rolling Mill Hill neighborhood with plans to donate the land to a Lancaster-based development company.

Housing Development Corporation MidAtlantic plans to build 56 units of affordable rental housing in the area.

The properties include 133 and 149 Dana St., 66-68 Grove St. and 112 McCarragher St., according to Gerard T. O’Donnell, a consultant working with the Wyoming Valley Health and Education Foundation, which plans to demolish the structures.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/housing-development-planned-in-w-b-1.1724520

If 4 Atlantic City Casinos Close In September, Then What?

English: Atlantic City (NJ) - The boardwalk in...

English: Atlantic City (NJ) – The boardwalk in a rainy day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – This resort faces the prospect of having four major vacancies on its famed Boardwalk come mid-September.

The grim reality sank in July 14 when Trump Plaza issued layoff notices and targeted Sept. 16 as the date to cease operating as a casino.

Perception is reality in tourism, experts say, and the Boardwalk is synonymous with Atlantic City. How will four hulking, empty buildings sit with visitors – especially at night – and will they impede tourism when Atlantic City needs it the most?

“When an area goes dark, and there are increased vacancies, it generally sends out more than a subtle message that things are not promising on the horizon,” said Don Moliver, dean of the Leon Hess Business School at Monmouth University.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140722_Atlantic_City_lights_dimmer_in_September.html#LRbj1JvhlyPXrwkJ.99

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

Tax Increase Set For State College Area School District Residents

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

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

 — Taxpayers in the State College Area School District will see a 1.95 percent tax increase after the district school board adopted its final general fund budget Monday.

Board members unanimously approved, with no discussion, a real estate tax increase from 38.75 mills to 39.5056 mills, with each mill representing $3.95 per $100 of assessed value.

Under the budget of $126,791,664 for the fiscal year starting July 1 and ending June 30, 2015, the median district homeowner will pay an additional $54, according to the district.

The district projects that the tax increase will add $1.56 million in revenue, while assessed value growth will provide another $1.2 million.

Century III Mall In West Mifflin Slides Into Retail Abyss

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

Jay Natale had a good year in 1979.

The Steelers won the Super Bowl. The Pirates won the World Series. And Natale opened a sporting goods store in the new Century III Mall in West Mifflin.

“The first year was unbelievable,” Natale, 70, of Elizabeth said, recalling a mobbed grand opening at the mall. “We hit the jackpot on that one.”

The jackpot lasted for nearly 20 years.

Since then, the mall has spiraled downward, losing customers, retailers and property value, which drained hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes from West Mifflin and its school district.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6235359-74/mall-century-iii#ixzz34oyENfeX
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Wilkes-Barre Area Expands Study Of Buildings, Approves New Administrator Compensation Plan

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Proposals from companies willing to do a feasibility study of Wilkes-Barre Area’s three high schools haven’t even been submitted yet, but the School Board voted Monday to expand the study to cover all district buildings.

The board also approved a new agreement granting most administrators annual raises between $800 and $1,400 through the 2015-16 school year, an offer Board Member Christine Katsock criticized. She noted the preliminary budget, sure to change before final passage later this month, had a $3.7 million shortfall despite a proposed 2.9 percent property tax increase.

Fear of falling debris from loose facades prompted emergency fencing and entrance closures at Coughlin and Meyers high schools last month, and the board voted to put out requests for proposals for a feasibility study on either repairs of those buildings and GAR High School, or construction of a new high school.

A “pre-proposal meeting” with prospective contractors is scheduled for this morning.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1453620/W-B-Area-expands-study-of-buildings

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Hoping For Recovery In Marcus Hook

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Delaware County

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

Marie Horn’s front porch offers a panoramic view of the Delaware River and riverfront park in Marcus Hook.

Her back deck overlooks a different scene: empty lots, with curb cuts and street lights prepared for 11 more houses.

The land has long sat vacant, as a nonprofit group struggles to find interested builders or buyers to complete a neighborhood of brightly colored colonials along the river, bookended by a refinery and a former refinery property. Horn’s house is just one of three built in the last few years.

It is unclear when more will join them.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20140526_Hoping_for_recovery_in_Marcus_Hook.html#ADvJFZstAFQIY6QD.99

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Fresh Start Planned For Blighted York City Building

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

A York City businessman plans to gut a blighted downtown building to make room for a future restaurant.

Elliott Weinstein, president and CEO of Weinstein Realty Advisors, will soon be the owner of 45 W. Market St., the former Griffith-Smith menswear store.

York City’s Redevelopment Authority gave the $2,000 sale the green light Wednesday. Technically, the sale is not final until the paperwork is signed and money exchanged.

Weinstein said he’s hoping to take advantage of York County’s Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, or LERTA, program, which is designed to incentivize economic development by stretching property taxes on improvements over 10 years.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_25811017/fresh-start-planned-blighted-york-city-building

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North Philadelphia Meeting Addresses Gentrification

, a in , Pennsylvania

, a in , Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PEOPLE FROM all over Philadelphia came together Saturday to tell their stories about gentrification at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia.

Organizers had issued fliers calling for an “emergency town hall” to confront a “crisis facing black Philadelphia: the demise of our neighborhoods.”

In gentrification, some neighborhoods are targeted for revitalization – but the new development leads to huge rent or property-tax increases that often force longtime residents out.

Sister Empress Phile, one of the organizers, said the group will host more town halls and ask for more public meetings, including congressional hearings.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140303_North_Philadelphia_meeting_addresses_gentrification.html#AU1SM36tmtUWDA0U.99

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Munhall Awaiting Decision On Loan Amid Fiscal Turmoil

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

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

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.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2014/02/10/Munhall-awaiting-decision-on-loan-amid-fiscal-turmoil/stories/201402100093#ixzz2swAw1oXw

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Owen J Robert SD Loses $2 Million A Year Under Lowered Coventry Mall Tax Assessment

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

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

SOUTH COVENTRY TOWNSHIP, PA— The Owen J. Roberts School Board unanimously approved a real estate tax appeal settlement with Coventry Retail, LP, that lowers the assessed value of the Coventry Mall from $98 million in 2012 to $23.2 million in 2014.

The reassessment will equate to a loss of about $2 million a year in property tax revenues to the district.

In addition to the revenue loss, the agreement is retroactive to 2012, so the district will have to repay mall owners $1,619,799 of taxes paid in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In accordance with the agreement, $650,000 of that will be paid in cash within 60 days, according to attorney David L. Allebach Jr., who represented the board on this matter. The remaining funds will be credited to the mall against future taxes,

District officials had anticipated that cost and have reserved the full $1.6 million, according to district Chief Financial Officer Jaclin Krumrine. Therefore, the district has the $650,000 on hand to pay back the mall owner. The remaining nearly $1 million will help balance the 2014-15 budget to make up for the tax credit the mall will receive during that fiscal year.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/social-affairs/20140129/ojr-loses-2m-a-year-under-lowered-coventry-mall-tax-assessment

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Local Tax Hikes Add To Burden Around Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

At least 11 of Luzerne County’s 76 municipalities are increasing real estate taxes this year, according to statistics compiled by the county treasurer’s office.

These increases are on top of an 8-percent tax hike for all county property owners, which amounts to $42 more on a $100,000 property.

White Haven has the highest percentage increase — 31.6.

The owner of a $100,000 property in the borough will pay $60 more, with a tax bill increasing from $190 last year to $250 in 2014.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1138044/Local-tax-hikes-add-to-burden-around-county

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As Scranton Mayor, Doherty Leaving, His Mark Affixed

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

For an evaluation of Mayor Chris Doherty’s 12 years in the top city job, listen to his chief critic.

“Overall, the mayor did a very good job. He had a vision for the city and, by and large, I think he fulfilled that vision,” city council President Janet Evans said.

This is the same Janet Evans who spent the better part of her 10 years as a councilwoman ripping Mr. Doherty for one shortcoming or another at weekly council meetings.

Not that Mrs. Evans is done criticizing. She still thinks Mr. Doherty borrowed too much money, should have negotiated contracts with the city’s police and firefighter unions instead of fighting a losing and costlier arbitration battle and needed, in his later years, more experienced cabinet members.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/as-mayor-doherty-leaving-his-mark-affixed-1.1608177

Towanda Borough Council Passes $4.9M Budget Thursday, Tax Rates To Remain The Same

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Bradford County

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

TOWANDA, PA – The Towanda Borough Council on Thursday adopted a final $4.9 million borough budget for 2014, which leaves the borough’s tax rates unchanged.

The budget keeps the borough’s services the same as they were, borough Manager Kyle V. Lane said.

The council also voted unanimously to adopt the salaries for the borough’s employees for 2014, which in most cases had been previously set by union contracts.

However, the borough’s four non-unionized, salaried employees, including the borough manager, will receive a 2 percent “cost of living” raise, the council decided.

Read more: http://thedailyreview.com/news/council-passes-4-9m-budget-thursday-tax-rates-to-remain-the-same-1.1607411

Forks Township Supervisors Approve 13 Percent Tax Increase

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Property taxes will go up 13 percent next year in Forks Township.

Last week, the board of supervisors approved a budget that includes the tax increase and an additional $700,000 in expenditures.

The extra money will pay for new vehicles and equipment or repairs.

Finance Manager Jim Farley said vehicle prices continue to go up despite the economy. He estimated a new, fully loaded dump truck with a plow could cost $500,000 and a fire engine could cost as much as $2 million.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2013/12/forks_township_supervisors_app_4.html

York County Approves Budget Without Tax Increase

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

York County commissioners on Wednesday approved a 2014 budget with no tax increase.

The millage rate will remain 4.52, so a taxpayer with a home assessed at $150,000 will continue to pay $678 in county real estate taxes.

County administrator Chuck Noll said no significant changes were made to the final budget after the draft one was presented in November. He said it was the fourth time in five years that commissioners approved a budget without a tax increase.

The $476.7 million budget includes a general fund of $190.6 million.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/politics/ci_24753479/york-county-approves-budget-without-tax-increase

State College Council To Vote Monday On Budget, Proposed Tax Hike

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

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

Editor’s note:  The average State College homeowner, with a property value of $200,000, would pay $7 more per month….

State College Borough Council will decide Monday whether to go along with one member’s last-minute push to avoid a tax increase in 2014.

Council is expected to vote Monday on a proposed budget that carries a property tax increase of 1.5 mills. But Councilman Jim Rosenberger suggested last week that he would make a motion instead to put off the increase and dig deeper into reserve funds to balance the spending plan.

Rosenberger said he hadn’t seen enough at a series of budget discussions to be convinced that the borough needs to raises taxes in 2014.

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said that the budget could be modified to include no tax increase and still be passed Monday. Council wouldn’t have to start the process over or hold additional meetings.

Proposed York City Budget Has No Tax Increase, But Includes New Expenses

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

For the second year in a row, York City is poised to approve a balanced budget that does not hike property taxes.

But there are some new expenses in Mayor Kim Bracey‘s 2014 proposal that the York City Council could target if council members want to trim the budget before approving it next week.

Most significant among them is the $550,000 pricetag on a new financial-management system. The city secured a grant from the state to cover $150,000 of that cost.

Business administrator Michael O’Rourke explained during a marathon budget hearing Wednesday that the city’s current system became obsolete years ago.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_24706975/proposed-york-city-budget-has-no-tax-increase

Budget Adopted By Plymouth Council With No Tax Hike

Location of Plymouth Township in Montgomery County

Location of Plymouth Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP, PA — The final, $21,021,288 2014 budget, which keeps the millage rate at 1.6 mills, was unanimously adopted by council Monday night.

The budget has a reserve fund balance of $5,988,716 at the end of 2014, including more than $3 million in cash, said. The available fund balance decreased from $6,678,813 at the end of 2013 to $5,988,716.

The budget has contractual increases in salary for police and administration employees. Health care costs are up about $300,000, and there is an additional $240,000 for three additional police officers in the budget, Creelman said.

The average residential home is assessed at $180,000 and the township tax will is expected to remain at $288.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20131209/budget-adopted-by-plymouth-council-with-no-tax-hike