Fiscal Board Approves Philadelphia’s 5-Year Plan

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philadelphia’s finances are improving and are likely to continue doing so through 2019.

The Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) board made that optimistic determination Monday when it unanimously approved the city’s five-year plan.

The city’s fiscal overseers cautioned, however, that various risks were still associated with the Nutter administration’s long-term budget, including unresolved labor contracts, the School District’s fiscal crisis, and the pension fund.

Despite its concerns, PICA staff found enough good news in the five-year plan and in its most recent revenue reports to endorse that administration’s fiscal road map to 2019. So did the City Controller’s Office. Both the staff and the controller had recommended the opposite last year, for the first time in PICA’s history.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140722_PICA_likes_Phila__s_5-year_plan.html#qRukpGb4zKGUI7xu.99

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

Reading School District Running Deficit Of Nearly $1 Million

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Four months into the 2013-14 fiscal year, the Reading School District is already running at a nearly $1 million deficit, the school board learned Monday night.

Robert Peters, chief financial officer, presented the board with a status update on the 2013-14 budget at a committee of the whole meeting.

He said unexpected increases in expenses and decreases in revenues have the district facing a $952,000 deficit.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=517608

Cleaning Up Steve Reed’s Mess: Harrisburg’s Debt Plan Expected To Be Filed Today

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

Cleaning up former Mayor Steve Reed’s mess is going to take more than just a solution to his incinerator debt.

Harrisburg‘s state-appointed Receiver has said he hopes to file sometime today his plan to eliminate the city’s bad debt through the sale of the incinerator and a long-term lease of parking assets.

While the more than $360 million in unpayable debt at the incinerator is the root of why the city is in receivership, whatever plan is put forward has to account for much more than that.

Why?

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/08/harrisburg_debt_plan_cleaning.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Refinancing Deadline Extended Third Time For Lancaster County Convention Center

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

For the third time, the deadline for the refinancing of the Lancaster County Convention Center’s debt has loomed and for the third time the deadline has been extended.

On Thursday, board members of the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority approved a 120-day extension of the terms of the $64 million debt agreement. The September 3 deadline was extended to January 2.

County Commissioner Scott Martin has been negotiating on the authority’s behalf with Wells Fargo, the sole bond holder, on the terms of a subsequent agreement.

“We’re going to need some additional time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s,” authority board chairman Kevin Fry said in announcing the extension.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/886288_Refinancing-deadline-extended-third-time-for-Lancaster-County-Convention-Center.html#ixzz2coPiuDDR

No Pottstown Tax Hike Due, In Part, To 3-Year-Old Report Says Council President

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  And also due to the tireless efforts of Jason Bobst, Janice Lee and Dan Weand for fixing the broken accounting system.  Imagine what Pottstown could become if Council President Toroney followed the ULI Report recommendations!

POTTSTOWN — Borough Council President Stephen Toroney credited a 2009 consultant report on the borough’s finances for starting Pottstown down the road to what he considers a landmark achievement, that was made official Monday with the adoption of a $38.5 million that does not raise borough taxes for the first time in recent memory.

Councilman Mark Gibson, who, as a paid driver for the Empire Fire Company could be said to benefit financially by voting for the budget, which makes contributions to the fire companies, abstained from the vote.

But the budget, officially balanced at $38,530,729, otherwise received unanimous support from the remainder of council.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121214/NEWS01/121219662/no-pottstown-tax-hike-due-in-part-to-3-year-old-report-says-council-president#full_story

Scranton City Council Holds Hearing On Recovery Plan

In a first in several years, Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty on Thursday attended a city council meeting that was a public hearing on their joint revised recovery plan.

The mayor – who usually bears the brunt of a barrage of negative comments and criticism from council and some regular attendees at weekly council meetings – had not attended a council session in about six years, council President Janet Evans said.

However, the city’s financial crisis has finally made for some strange bedfellows between the mayor and council majority, who usually are mortal political enemies. After months of a bitter mayor/council stalemate over revising the city’s Act 47 recovery plan that would be acceptable to banks and the city’s recovery coordinator, Pennsylvania Economy League, the mayor and Mrs. Evans reached an accord July 27. As a result, she said she asked the mayor to attend the hearing, and he agreed.

“It was a milestone,” Mrs. Evans said of the mayor’s appearance. “We’re very pleased to be working with him.”

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-city-council-holds-hearing-on-recovery-plan-1.1360066

Constables Fight To Keep Share Of Parking Ticket Fines

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Berks County state constables make hundreds of thousands of dollars each year serving warrants for unpaid citations issued by the Reading Parking Authority.

Last year, the authority helped draft a state bill that would allow it to handle its own delinquent parking tickets and collect an estimated $500,000 lost to what city officials call inefficiencies in the city’s constable and district court system. The measure, House Bill 1803, cleared the state House in June and was referred to the Senate.

Last month, fearing for their livelihoods, the constables launched a lobbying effort to kill the bill.

Led by Thomas Impink, elected state constable for Wernersville and president of the Pennsylvania State Constables Association, the constables pressured state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Delaware County Republican, to send the bill to committee, stalling its progress.

Read more:http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=408108

Businesses Worry Over Scranton’s Deepening Financial Crisis

Between sips of soda at Sal’s Pizza on Linden Street, Nick Noll recounted his time as a Scranton business owner.

His business, Keystone Granite and Marble, was on Diamond Avenue in Scranton but moved to Old Forge earlier this year as he saw deepening financial problems and grew tired of the business privilege tax.

“As soon as I moved to Old Forge I felt like I received a raise,” Mr. Noll said. “It no longer became a question of whether or not I should pay my taxes or take my family on vacation.”

Mr. Noll said the increase in the gross receipts tax proposed in the city’s revised recovery plan from 0.75 percent to 1 percent is “counterproductive” to bringing business back into the city.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/businesses-worry-over-deepening-financial-crisis-1.1354898

Pottstown Mayor Whines About Budget Cut

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

Only in Pottstown!  Our illustrious Missy Mayor, Bonnie Heath is upset with Pottstown’s new $38.9 million budget.  In an effort to cut frivolous expenditures and luxuries we cannot afford, her $300.00 Mayor’s budget was reduced to $50.00.  Well cry me a big fat river!  I find this absolutely amazing for several reasons:

a. Bonnie was whining about eating “fuel costs” for attending events.  Excuse me, but the last time I checked, driving around a 5 square-mile borough does not exactly use much gas.  You might consider buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle if gas to drive around Pottstown is such a strain on your budget.  You already require a free ticket to attend an event!  Or better yet, don’t make unauthorized and secret trips to Norristown to undermine binding votes of Council you disagree with.  That would save a couple bucks!

b. Does the totally ceremonial position of mayor even need a “budget” to be a ribbon-cutter and baby-kisser?  I think not!

c. Considering the state of the economy and the state of Pottstown; does this petty whining about $250.00 seem out of touch with reality to anyone else?  People are starving, a large percentage of PSD students are on reduced or free lunch, homes are being foreclosed, jobs are hard to come by and our mayor has the chutzpah to carp about her “budget” being cut when we are trying to avoid raising taxes!

Two Roy’s Rants thumbs down for this selfish behavior from a public servant.  Why don’t you try being part of the solution instead of being part of the problem, Bonnie!

Pottstown’s 2011 Budget

Not that we can jump for joy just yet, but it sounds like better days are ahead on Pottstown’s financial front.  Barring any unforseen hiccups, or any contract arbitrations that run awry, we could be looking at no tax increase for next year.

First, we should thank Jason Bobst, Borough Manager, Janice Lee, Finance Director and Councilor Weand and his Finance Committee for their hard work and financial stewardship.  Everyone is working hard trying to get Pottstown’s financial house in order.  This is a rather daunting task as things have not been property attended in the past thereby making this a herculean task for the above named people.

I ran into Councilor Weand at the polls yesterday and we had a nice conversation about finances.  

Accounting is boring and most of us don’t understand much about it.  It isn’t an exciting topic of conversation and most people end up in “deer in the headlights” mode if discussed for too long. 

Our financial practices as a borough were a hideous.  Dan and his committee are trying to shore up the foundation so our house doesn’t collapse.  This is also necessary if we want to get grants and funding for projects.  Nobody wants to throw money at an organization that can’t keep track of their books!

The work accomplished this year has been tedious and rather complicated.  However, we are starting to see results that you and I can appreciate and understand.  We have a handle on the check book, we can pay our bills, we are returning Pottstown to standard accounting practices that will make our finances transparent, understandable and make us eligible for grants and such as we have a paper trail aka back-up documentation to prove what we say.  You may have noticed that lenders usually don’t just take your word for stuff.  They want proof!  Same way with municipalities folks!

Bottom line – Because of all this behind-the-scenes work, we might not have to increase taxes and maybe we can get some free money to do some awesome projects to help Pottstown become all it can be!

Keep in mind that Rome, or Pottstown for that matter, wasn’t built in a day.  This is an ongoing process.  There is more progress to be made and no one is resting on their laurels.  Keep up the good work!  We look forward to more positive results.