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

Enhanced by Zemanta

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

Enhanced by Zemanta

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

Enhanced by Zemanta

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

Enhanced by Zemanta

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

Hazleton Passes Budget With A Cut In Property Tax

Downtown Hazleton, PA

Downtown Hazleton, PA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1035150/Hazleton-passes-budget-with-a-cut-in-property-tax

Pension Crisis About To Explode For Pennsylvania School Districts

School districts across Pennsylvania are getting news that’s unpleasant yet not unexpected.

The Public School Employees Retirement System, or PSERS, last week began sending notices to school districts that their pension costs will climb to 21.4 percent of payroll in the 2014-15 school year.

Even though that total could change a bit before it becomes official at an end-of-year meeting of the PSERS board, it gives a pretty good indication of what school districts are facing.

For historical context, the 21.4 percent figure is the highest rate since at least the 1950s — and it’s quite a jump from the 16.9 percent districts paid this year.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131204/pension-crisis-about-to-explode-for-pa-school-districts

U.S. Steel’s Lower Taxes Causing Budget Headaches

U.S. Steel

U.S. Steel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A succession of successful tax appeals by U.S. Steel earlier this year, resulting in the assessed value of some of its major properties in Allegheny County plummeting by millions of dollars, has put big dents in municipal and school budgets.

The drop in real estate tax revenue has prompted three school districts — Woodland Hills, Clairton and West Mifflin — to file court challenges to the appeals granted to U.S. Steel by the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review, and is pushing Braddock to consider an earned income tax increase.

Ira Weiss, solicitor for the Clairton City School District, called U.S. Steel’s new assessments, which resulted in the value of its coke plant in Clairton dropping from nearly $10.6 million in 2012 to just above $2 million this year, “laughable.”

“We believe the approach of [U.S. Steel] in these appeals with these communities where they’ve been longtime partners is deplorable, really,” Mr. Weiss said. “It was devastating. … [Clairton's] a small school district in a small town and no local government can sustain this kind of hit from an ongoing concern.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/east/2013/11/30/U-S-Steel-s-lower-taxes-causing-budget-headaches/stories/201311300091#ixzz2m9CxWD00

Scranton Landlords, Homeowners And Renters Brace For Tax Hikes

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-landlords-homeowners-and-renters-brace-for-tax-hikes-1.1590772

Slight Tax Hike Projected In 2014 Limerick Budget

Location of Limerick Township in Montgomery County

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.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131119/slight-tax-hike-projected-in-2014-limerick-budget

York City Mayor Proposes No Tax Increase

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_24553629/york-city-mayor-proposes-no-tax-increase

Scranton Mayor Proposes 56 Percent Property Tax Increase; 69 Percent Garbage Fee Hike

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

With wary banks watching Scranton‘s finances closely, Mayor Chris Doherty today proposed a $130.5 million budget for 2014 that would dramatically raise real estate taxes, the garbage collection fee and parking-meter rates and penalties.

Read the budget HERE

A real estate tax increase of 56.7 percent would be one of the largest, if not the largest, tax hikes ever in the city. A trash collection fee increase of 68.5 percent – from the current $178 a year to $300 a year – would be the largest garbage fee hike ever.

The large spikes are all necessary to close a $20 million operating deficit for 2014 and restore the city’s creditworthiness with lenders, Mr. Doherty said.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-mayor-proposes-56-percent-property-tax-increase-69-percent-garbage-fee-hike-1.1586481

Facing 4.3% Tax Hike, Pottstown Working To Close $330K Budget Deficit

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — The public got its first look at the proposed $38.3 million borough budget for 2014 on Wednesday night and saw a projected deficit of more than $330,000 — the rough equivalent of a 4.3 percent property tax increase.

Finance Director Janice Lee made the budget presentation, but did not identify how the administration will propose to close the deficit, which her presentation spreadsheet pegged more specifically at $332,308.

Other than a property tax increase, options for closing that budget gap could include additional revenue from other sources or decreased expenses.

Asked after the meeting how much of a tax hike would be needed to close that gap, Lee declined to speculate and noted that the administration has not yet made a recommendation to borough council, whose members listened to the budget presentation Wednesday night but asked no questions.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131107/facing-43-tax-hike-pottstown-working-to-close-330k-budget-deficit

Reading City Council, Administration Haggle Over Several Issues At Budget Meetings

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

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

How essential are the nine full-timers and three part-timers that Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer wants added to the proposed 2014 budget, including a media manager, a post that was so controversial last year?

Does the city want to keep $500,000 on reserve yet another year for the Central Pennsylvania African-American Museum’s proposed expansion, or use that money to spruce up parks?

Is the city’s outside consultants’ report – on Spencer’s plan to shift the property tax to a land-value tax – an endorsement of that plan?

Should the city drop earned income and commuter taxes by 0.1 percent as planned, or keep them flat because of coming budget woes?

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=515907