The Pittsburgh-based energy company early Thursday announced it posted $110.9 million in net income, or 73 cents per share, during the three months that ended June 30. That’s a 27 percent increase over the $86.9 million profit on 58 cents a share it recorded in the same quarter last year.
FOR THE SECOND straight year, the Philadelphia School District is staring at a more than $300 million shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
That’s according to a lump-sum budget adopted last night by the School Reform Commission, which lays out broad projections of revenue and expenses. The forecast anticipates $2.8 billion in expenses, with $2.5 billion in revenues, leaving a deficit of $320 million.
“Based on our current financial picture, we are still left without adequate funding to provide even the most basic services for our students,” SRC chairman Bill Green said. “We are again in a position to ask for additional funding.”
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.
Provisions of the transportation funding legislation passed today by the Pennsylvania Senate:
— Generates at least $2.3 billion per year after a five-year period by gradually increasing taxes and fees on motorists; generates $7.36 billion total over the first five years.
— Directs $1.65 billion per year to highway and bridge construction and repair by the fifth year, including $220 million annually for locally owned roads and bridges.
— Directs $476 million to $497 million per year to mass transit agencies by the fifth year.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. Postal Service said Friday it lost $5 billion over the past year, and postal officials again urged Congress to pass legislation to help the beleaguered agency solve its financial woes.
In a positive sign, the loss was a fraction of the record $15.9 billion the Postal Service reported losing last year. But it was still the agency’s seventh straight annual loss and came despite its first growth in revenue since 2008.
Operating revenue rose 1.2 percent to $66 billion, thanks to growth in the post office’s package delivery business and higher volume in standard mail. That was not enough to offset long-term losses in first class mail – the post office’s most profitable service – where revenues declined by 2.4 percent.
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.
The drugmaker Merck & Co. will lay off 500 people from its facility in West Point, Montgomery County, between Dec. 23 and Jan. 5.
Merck said on Oct. 1 that it would eliminate 8,500 jobs from its worldwide workforce beyond the 7,500 it had not yet cut from an earlier restructuring plan, but company officials were not specific about where and when.
Several big pharmaceutical companies with operations in the area are cutting jobs. Message boards devoted to Merck have been full of discussions about which units would lose people, but official public notice of the 500 job cuts at the West Point facility came because of a federal law called the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).
Banks moved out, theaters moved in, and – if the price of real estate in the neighborhood is any sign – things got a lot better around South Broad Street after the birth of the Avenue of the Arts.
Back in 1993, Peter C. Soens recalls, he sold the former Girard Bank building at Broad and Chestnut Streets, now home to the Ritz-Carlton, for $2 million.
Soon afterward, Soens, a partner at the commercial building broker and manager SSH Real Estate, sold One East Penn Square, across from City Hall, for $2.1 million.
By contrast, Soens said recently, “last year, 260 S. Broad St., a similar-sized building, also basically empty, sold for $27.5 million.” The buyer, Post Bros., says it will convert the former Atlantic office building to apartments.
Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority agreed Tuesday to sell 253 acres of surplus airport property to the Rockefeller Group so that it can be developed into a massive Fed-Ex Ground warehouse that could employ more than 1,000 people.
It’s a deal that could solve many of the airport’s financial problems, but it also comes with some risks. The money could take as long as two years to come, while the airport needs as much as $5 million of it by the end of next year. And if Fed-Ex decided against building in Allen Township, the airport could end up getting nothing.
In a separate move, the authority also gave Rockefeller the first option to buy another 281 acres, and encouraged the airport staff to begin negotiating to sell another 298 acres to local developers that include Lehigh Valley Industrial Park Inc.
“We know the clock is ticking and we have a [financial] gun to our head,” said authority chairman Tony Iannelli. “But this [project] is for real. We’ll all be keeping our fingers crossed.”
Reading City Council members who weeks ago tentatively agreed to a slight drop in earned-income and commuter taxes have now changed their minds; they want both taxes to stay flat.
The difference would mean an extra $1.2 million in annual revenue – mostly from commuters – and council is focusing on the 2015 and 2016 budgets that have gaps of more than $10 million each.
Council President Francis G. Acosta, who is against the move, said he was surprised when a poll of council members Monday showed five in favor of keeping the tax flat.
But he and other council members said they don’t want the extra 2014 revenue to be used to hire more people at City Hall, but rather be put in the contingency fund, or be reserved for 2015 and 2016.
POTTSTOWN, PA — Although Pottstown Borough Council has yet to be presented with a budget draft, the members of council’s finance committee have.
It is too soon to say if council will be able to avoid raising property taxes for two years in a row, but it is obviously on everybody’s mind.
Councilman Dan Weand, who chairs the finance committee, told council that he likes the way the borough finances are shaping up.
“So far, with 75 percent of the year passed, we’ve brought in 85 percent of the revenue and only seen 74 percent of the expenses,” said Weand.
The administration and City Council on Monday revved up the plan to fix the city’s estimated 170 miles of sanitary sewer pipe, awarding an $847,747 contract to a firm just to oversee other contractors’ investigations of what’s wrong.
Hazen & Sawyer, Philadelphia, will use the voluminous data coming in from those other probes to build a computer model of the pipe system, assess where its problems are and what repairs are needed, and evaluate which areas will need more capacity in coming years.
“It’s important to have a firm that can handle the data,” Deborah A.S. Hoag, city utility systems manager, told council members.
She said the data coming from other contractors – who have built a special map of the system and televised and smoke-tested many of the pipes – is phenomenally huge.
The Sovereign Center will get an extra $45,000 a year, thanks to the Reading Parking Authority’s agreement Wednesday to change the split of parking revenue coming from civic center events.
Since 2006, the authority has taken 75 percent of the revenue after expenses, giving the civic center 25 percent.
However, P. Michael Ehlerman, chairman of the Berks County Convention Center Authority that oversees the civic center, has asked that the parking board go back to the original split – the two sides each get 50 percent of the revenue after expenses.
The request came during a meeting of the authorities requested by Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer, said parking board member Lawrence P. Murin, who also is a special assistant to Spencer.
From 2009 through 2012, Pennsylvania collected more money from casino gambling taxes than any other state. The four-year total was $5.4 billion.
Because it keeps almost half the money casinos win from gamblers – more than all but a couple of states – Pennsylvania’s casino tax revenue even topped the combined totals of Nevada and New Jersey, long the two biggest gambling states, from 2009 through 2012.
But in the 12 months ended June 30, Pennsylvania’s total take of $1.41 billion was 2.8 percent less than the $1.44 billion the year before, as the spread of casinos in Maryland, Ohio, and New York turned the tables on Pennsylvania.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) – Atlantic City’s 12 casinos saw their collective earnings fall by nearly 45 percent in the second quarter of 2013, state regulators said Thursday.
According to figures released by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, the casinos made just over $65 million in profits during the second quarter, down from nearly $118 million in the same period last year.
The biggest gain was posted by the Tropicana Casino and Resort, whose quarterly profits were up nearly 28 percent to $12.6 million.
Caesars Atlantic City had a quarterly profit of $24.2 million, up 17.4 percent from last year’s second-quarter profit of $20.6 million. Four of the 12 casinos posted operating losses in April, May and June.
Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer’s push to switch the current property tax to a land-value tax over the next five years ran into a traffic jam with City Council on Monday.
Some members flat out rejected it, and Council President Francis G. Acosta said he’d prevent any vote until he hears public support for the move.
The argument began when Gordon Mann, senior consultant with Public Financial Management Inc., the city’s Act 47 adviser, said it expects to have a recommendation on the proposal in 30 days.
“On the other hand, we have had a lot of conversations about it, and I need to have some feedback from council,” said Eron Lloyd, Spencer’s special assistant and point man for the land-value tax, which he says will encourage economic development.
COATESVILLE, PA — City Council is updating the city’s revitalization plans.
Council members unanimously voted to establish the Coatesville Downtown Revitalization District during an Aug. 12 meeting, with Councilman Ed Simpson and Vice President Joseph Hamrick absent.
Council President David Collins said the purpose was to target a specific area around expansion and redevelopment projects currently planned for the city.
Collins said this area will be essential to attracting new business enterprises, encouraging commercial development and expansion, improving the aesthetic appearance of the existing architecture, and building a stronger sense of community pride.
WILKES-BARRE, PA — More than halfway through the fiscal year the city is in better financial shape compared to the same period in 2012, officials said Friday.
Revenues are up by more than $7 million, largely because of a 25-mill property tax increase and the payment of 2012 wage taxes that had been delayed by problems at CENTAX, the former collection company. As a result, there are no plans to furlough workers to make up for a revenue shortfall.
“There is no manufactured financial crisis by a collection mishap by a third-party vendor,” said Drew McLaughlin, the city’s municipal affairs manager. “Revenue projections are holding steady so far, so we are very, very cautiously optimistic in terms of our financial position this year.”
Still, he cautioned things could change should the weather bring on an unpredictable expense caused by flooding from a tropical storm or snow in the winter. “We’re at the mercy of Mother Nature there and we proceed cautiously,” he said.
The numbers aren’t final, but Reading’s two civic center venues likely will take another operating loss of about $800,000, as paid attendance continues to dwindle.
The Berks County Convention Center Authority said Thursday that the anticipated loss from the season that ended June 30 is similar to the $786,000 loss posted the prior season.
“The unaudited numbers are no better this year than last year,” Treasurer Carl D. Herbein said.
Paid attendance has fallen 16 percent over the past five years for the Sovereign Center arena and Sovereign Performing Arts Center theater, said Chairman P. Michael Ehlerman.
All hotels and motels in Berks County must begin collecting a 5 percent room tax starting Oct. 1.
The county commissioners in a 2-1 vote Thursday extended the tax to facilities beyond the 15-mile radius of the Sovereign Center established when the tax went into effect March 1, 1997.
The tax currently produces about $1.7 million annually, with 80 percent going to the Berks County Convention Center Authority to repay money borrowed to build the center and 20 percent going to the Greater Reading Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The expansion is expected to bring in an additional $310,000 in 2014.