Talk Of Wilkes-Barre Area Tax Hike Shifts To Needs For The Future

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA  — While the Wilkes-Barre Area School District budget committee continued to discuss a possible 2.9 percent tax increase at a Tuesday noon meeting — talk that prompted stinging rebukes from resident Sam Troy — the tone of the conversation seemed to shift from needing the tax hike to cover a 2014-15 shortfall to needing it to cover future costs.

Business manager Leonard Pryzwara noted the proposed budget sets aside 0.15 mills for debt service, and suggested an annual increase along those lines to cover future repair or construction costs. A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value. The current tax rate is 15.22 mills. A 2.9 percent increase — the maximum allowed at Wilkes-Barre Area this year by state law — would raise the rate to 15.921 mills.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1472721/Talk-of-W-B-Area-tax-hike-shifts-to-needs-for-the-future

New Lower Pottsgrove Board Wants To Cut Library Funding, Add Police

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montg...

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

LOWER POTTSGROVE — New township commissioners’ Chairman Bruce Foltz is the first to acknowledge that he and the new majority on the board made a lot of changes in their first meeting of the year Monday night.

In fact, he said so in comments at the close of the meeting.

“We want the staff, fire department, solicitor, and commissioners to have the same goal; for the township to be user friendly,” said Foltz at the close of Monday’s re-organization meeting during which he was elected chairman and many of the immediate changes were implemented.

“We want to bring businesses into the township and have it not be a hassle, with all the back and forth, for our contractors and developers,” Foltz said.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140106/new-lower-pottsgrove-board-wants-to-cut-library-funding-add-police

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Funds For More Cops, No Tax Hike In Proposed 2014 Wilkes-Barre Budget

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Mayor Tom Leighton proposed a $42.7 million 2014 budget Friday morning without any tax or fee hikes and with funding to hire additional police officers.

“My goal is to hire at least 10 new officers in 2014, but we will closely monitor the strength of city finances to hire as many officers as the general fund can afford,” Leighton said during his budget presentation at city hall.

City employees will receive a 3 percent raise. Leighton’s salary also will increase 3 percent for 2014 to $82,309. He said he has not taken a raise for the last seven years.

Read more:  http://citizensvoice.com/news/funds-for-more-cops-no-tax-hike-in-proposed-2014-w-b-budget-1.1567105

Pottstown School Board OKs Hirings, Raises

POTTSTOWN — As the school year winds down, most of us have vacation on our minds, but in school district offices, its time to close the books on those who are leaving, and set the stage for those who are coming on board or moving up.

Key to that planning is putting personnel in place and among the many changes coming to Pottstown schools in September, is a long list of changes in personnel — and salary.

The changes began with the appointment of Jeffrey D. Hartman as the new principal at Pottstown High School, effective July 1.

Hartman, who will be paid $105,692, finished this school year as the principal of Phillipsburg-Osceola Senior High School in Centre County, where he has served since 2011.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130623/NEWS01/130629764/pottstown-school-board-oks-hirings-raises

Stalled Owen J Roberts Contract Talks Lead To Teacher Slowdown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

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

SOUTH COVENTRY — The stalled contract negotiations between the Owen J. Roberts School District and its teachers union has gone public.

The teachers have been working without a contract since June 30 and the two sides have been negotiating, quietly for the most part, for 15 months.

However the failure to reach an agreement about wages has raised the stakes and the rhetoric in the matter and the teachers union have instructed their members to work only to the specific language of the expired contract and cease all extra and voluntary activities.

School Board President Douglas K. Hughes reacted by issuing a letter to the district Tuesday, which was also   posted on the district web site, announcing that the teachers union had decided to “work to contract,” explaining they would “work only to the contractually obligated hours” and informing residents and taxpayers the union had asked their members “not to participate in any unpaid activities.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130328/NEWS01/130329308/stalled-ojr-contract-talks-lead-to-teacher-slowdown#full_story

Pottstown School Board Eyes Administrator Raises

POTTSTOWN — The school board is set to vote Monday on proposed 2 percent raises for mid-level administrators and support staff.

If approved by the board, it will be the first raise in two years for some.

The matter was on the agenda for discussion at Thursday night’s meeting, but none of the school board members had any comment.  The package was recommended by the school board’s personnel committee.

If approved, the raises would be effective April 1, said Business Manager Linda Adams.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130324/NEWS01/130329671/pottstown-school-board-eyes-administrator-raises#full_story

Lancaster County Nearly Has Balanced Budget

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Lancaster County is only about $22,000 shy of balancing next year’s general fund budget, and officials expect to have that covered by Monday, when the entire $252.8 million spending plan is presented to the public.

The plan calls for departmental cuts of 2.75 percent, about $1.3 million in savings from a new high-deductible health insurance plan and a 9.3 percent tax increase — the first to be considered by the current board of commissioners.

The budget also includes raises of 2.75 percent for employees and doesn’t call for layoffs.

Maggie Weidinger, the county’s director of information technology and budget services, went over parts of the plan with the county commissioners on Thursday.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/790236_Lancaster-County-nearly-has-balanced-budget.html#ixzz2ENyYW43c

Lancaster County Budget Plan Splits Board

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

County property taxes would increase for the first time under the current county administration with a plan Commissioner Dennis Stuckey offered Wednesday.

His plan would increase taxes by about 9.3 percent and would include raises for employees of 2.75 percent, along with departmental cuts of about 2.75 percent.

For a home assessed at the county average of $148,000, a property owner would pay about $553, or about $48 more, next year. The millage rate would increase from 3.416 to 3.741 under Stuckey’s plan.

“I don’t throw this out or offer it up lightly,” he said. “It’s not something I particularly want to do or take pleasure in, but I feel like the best course of action is a little more even approach going in to next year, offering something to our employees … and trying to get some value that will assist us in protecting our cash reserve.”

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/787155_Lancaster-County-budget-plan-splits-board.html#ixzz2DeTerjYN

Speaker On Flanders Appointment Quieted By Pottstown Police

Editor’s note: Very Orwellian.

POTTSTOWN — A man who apparently did not understand that comments at borough council meetings are to be made at the beginning was shut down Tuesday night by Borough Council President Stephen Toroney and plain clothes police as he tried to comment on the appointment of Mark Flanders as the new borough manager.

Waiting until a motion and second had been made for Flanders’ appointment, an elderly man in the back of the room, said he had a question on the matter.

But Toroney told him “this is a public meeting and comments are to be made at the beginning of the meeting.”

“How are you supposed to comment when you don’t know what’s going to happen?” asked a woman in the audience.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121113/NEWS01/121119709/speaker-on-flanders-appointment-quieted-by-police

Pottstown Council Chooses Police Chief Mark Flanders As New Borough Manager

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Just another day in paradise!

POTTSTOWN,PA — With a unanimous vote, Police Chief Mark Flanders became Borough Manager Mark Flanders Tuesday night when council unanimously appointed him to the post and unanimously awarded him a one-year contract that nets him $120,000 and four weeks vacation.

Flanders will also remain the police chief until his official retirement in April, however he will not earn two salaries, Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. explained.

“For the one salary, you get both jobs,” Garner said.

Prior to the vote, each council member carefully and quietly enumerated their reasons for supporting Flanders’ candidacy, several of them saying they were impressed with the way he had handled the job since July.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121113/NEWS01/121119711/pottstown-council-chooses-police-chief-mark-flanders-as-new-borough-manager

Management Raises For Pottstown Government Vary From Zero To 14 Percent

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

Editor’s note:  Kudos to Jason Bobst for trying to lead by example and forgoing a raise in 2012.

POTTSTOWN, Pa.  — In a year that police officers saw a 3 percent salary increase and borough workers 2.1 percent, some borough managers and supervisors are enjoying pay increases as high as 14 percent, including a 10 percent raise for a supervisor recently convicted of drunk driving.

A review of management staff wages for 2012 shows a wide disparity in the raises provided to the non-union staff.

The information was provided to The Mercury through a Right-to-Know request made by former code enforcement director Jeff Smith.

According to the information provided by the borough, the highest increase — 14.2 percent — went to grants coordinator Erica Weekley.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120309/NEWS01/120309539/management-raises-for-pottstown-government-vary-from-0-to-14-&pager=full_story

Councilor Rhoads Explains Why He Could Not Approve Salary Increases For Pottstown Borough Manager and Chief Of Police

Pottstown’s Sixth Ward Councilor and “man of the people” cast the only NO vote at tonight’s Pottstown Borough Council meeting for raises for the Borough Manager and Chief of Police.

Here are Councilor Rhoads’ reasons for his NO vote:

For those who continue to say how rosy things are, look at the real picture and talk to the person who:

Just lost his job

Can’t find work

Had his pay cut

Is on a fixed income

Cannot pay his bills

Lost his house to Sheriff Sale

Lost his health insurance

Is in financial trouble due to severe health issues

Is just plain struggling

I have talked to many people with these situations.

The house across the street from me is empty because the person just up and left it. 

A house two blocks away on Queen Street is empty because the family abandoned it.

Some neighbors behind me recently walked away from their house.

A house a block away on South Roland Street just sold at Sheriff Sale.

A house just a few doors away is going to be empty due to Sheriff Sale.

A house three doors away has been for sale for almost a year.

Wednesday’s Mercury lists at least five more Sheriff Sales in the Sixth Ward alone.

Need I say anymore?

With all these issues, I cannot vote for this and the following item on the agenda.