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

Frugal California University Of Pennsylvania Cuts Back On Spending, Saves Millions

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

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

Channel-surfing college football fans may notice one area team missing from this fall’s TV lineup.

California University of Pennsylvania decided it no longer could justify spending up to $150,000 a season to produce and broadcast games played by its Division II Vulcans football team — not with classroom cuts looming.

Suddenly frugal Cal U also pared service on its Vulcan Flyer, a shuttle named for the school’s mascot that used to leave campus stops every 10 minutes. Students now wait a bit longer, saving Cal U half a million dollars.

Still more money — another $1.6 million — was recouped by telling campus departments to return unspent money at year’s end, suspending a practice that had let them amass surpluses, even in years that the university tapped reserves to balance its books.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/frugal-california-university-of-pennsylvania-cuts-back-on-spending-saves-millions-706559/#ixzz2h3iK9R1u

GOP Signals Cost Cuts Before Pennsylvania Driver Tax Boost

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  I bet there are all kinds of cost cutting measures that could be utilized before screwing over the taxpayers!

HARRISBURG – Conservative state lawmakers who are wary about plans to raise taxes or fees to boost transportation spending raised the prospect Wednesday that they will insist first on major changes, such as abolishing the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, to make public money go further.

The House Republican majority will be under pressure in the 10 weeks before the Legislature departs Harrisburg for the summer to make the case against a massive transportation funding plan.  Supporting such plans are leading senators from both political parties, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and a slew of groups from the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry to the AARP.

Even one member of the House Republican leadership acknowledged that there is tremendous pressure on the issue.

“I don’t think we thought there was going to be this much momentum for transportation,” said Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery, the caucus secretary.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=470679

Driver’s License, Registration Fees, Fines Would Rise Under State Senate Plan

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, released a transportation funding plan on Tuesday.  Here are some details of how approximately $2.5 billion would be raised from tax, fee and fine increases and spent once the plan is fully phased in:

FEES

— Imposes $50.50 licensing fee for six years, instead of a $29.50 fee for four years

— Imposes $104 registration fee for two years, instead of a $36 fee annually

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/news/439181/Drivers-license-registration-fees-fines-would-rise-under-state-Senate-plan

Scranton School Board Passes Budget With No Tax Increase

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Scranton residents will see one tax bill stay the same for 2013.

The Scranton School Board on Thursday night unanimously approved a $120.4 million budget that calls for no tax increase.

With a city tax increase of about 25 percent and a 4 percent increase in Lackawanna County taxes, Scranton school directors said they wanted to give residents a break.

Directors had been looking at a tax increase of 1.35 percent, but with interest rates for tax anticipation notes coming in lower than expected, finding additional health care savings and using $1.18 million in capital improvement money to pay down debt, officials balanced the budget.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-school-board-passes-budget-with-no-tax-increase-1.1422154

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

Vignettes Of Black Friday

With promotions, discounts and doorbusters already well under way on Thanksgiving Day itself, many big-box retailers are making Black Friday stretch longer than ever.  The Lede is checking out the mood of American consumers in occasional vignettes Thursday and Friday as the economically critical holiday shopping season kicks off.

Shoppers waiting outside Sam’s Club in Eagan, Minn., for Friday’s 7 a.m. opening clung to free Starbuck’s Holiday Blend coffee as they endured freezing temperatures and biting winds and collected brightly colored vouchers for laptops and big-screen TVs.

The biggest draw: a 96-cent Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone.  Once inside, they also beelined for tickets for the 63 Samsungs in stock, which sold out shortly after the store opened.  Customers could make an appointment for later in the day or another day to purchase the phone, choosing from three carriers, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint.

“O.K., this is my last blue for Sprint,” an employee called out at 7:08 a.m.

Read more:  http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/coverage-of-black-friday/?hp

Consumer Sentiment Falls To 2012 Low

(Reuters) – Consumer sentiment fizzled in July, falling to its lowest level of the year, as Americans took a dim view of the employment situation and their income prospects, a survey showed on Friday.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan‘s final reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment fell to 72.3 from 73.2 in June. It was the second month in a row attitudes have soured and the lowest level since December.

But the level was a touch higher than economists’ expectations for it to be unchanged from July’s preliminary reading of 72.

“While consumers do not anticipate an economy-wide recessionary decline, they do not expect a pace of economic growth that could satisfactorily revive job and income prospects,” survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/27/us-usa-economy-sentiment-idUSBRE86Q0T620120727

Tourism In Berks Bouncing Back

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Whether they soaked up sounds at Berks Jazz Fest, watched cars tear up the track at Maple Grove Raceway or savored roasted ox at the Kutztown Folk Festival, tourists have increased their spending in Berks County.

A state report on tourism in calendar year 2010, the latest year for which numbers are available, showed Berks tourism spending increased by 10.3 percent from 2009 to $687.7 million.

It was, for Greater Reading Convention & Visitors Bureau President Crystal A. Seitz, a healthy dose of good news after a difficult recession.

Seitz said, “I am in love with those numbers.”

Read more: http://businessweekly.readingeagle.com/?p=3003

Another Look At Manheim Township’s $3.2 Million Deficit

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Image via Wikipedia

Many Manheim Township residents are “concerned” about the size of the community’s deficit, new township Commissioner Dave Heck said.

And the commissioners, the township’s decision-making board, need “to start immediately” to look for ways to chop that $3.2 million deficit way down, Heck said.

The other commissioners agreed, voting this week to take the unusual step of reopening their township’s already approved 2012 budget.

Hoping to find ways to reduce that deficit, the five-member board voted Monday to take a new look at the 2012 spending plan.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/576571_Another-look-at-Manheim-Township-s-deficit.html#ixzz1kij91pd9

Early Budget Shows Difficulty Quakertown SD Faces

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Bucks County

Image via Wikipedia

Quakertown Community School Board reviewed an early 2012-13 budget that would require a 3 percent tax hike to maintain district programs and staffing.

The $93.6 million budget calls for raising taxes by 4.23 mills to 144.48 mills.  That means a property owner with the district’s average assessment of $26,304, would pay about $3,801 — about $112 more — in property taxes.  A mill is worth $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.

“This is a status quo budget.  There are no new initiatives, no new programs, and no new spending,” Superintendent Lisa Andrejko told directors on Thursday.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-quakertown-school-board-0105-20120106,0,677133.story

Pottstown Borough Spending Addiction Continues

I commented last year and cited examples of other cities and towns in Pennsylvania who have more size appropriate budgets.  Pottstown’s budget is enormous!

Jeff Leflar makes some good points in his recent post on The Pulse about Pottstown’s spending addiction and the inability of our leadership to cut expenses.  We continually raise taxes!  Eventually nobody will be able to afford to live here!

To read Jeff’s article, click here:  http://codebluepulse.blogspot.com/2011/11/borough-spending-addiction-continues.html

Education Week Releases Annual State Report Cards

Bookstand with large textbook

Image via Wikipedia

Education Week has released the results of their grading of all 50 states’ educational systems. Pennsylvania scored a B-.  Maryland had the highest score with a B+ followed by New York’s B rating.  The Dakotas and the District of Columbia scored a D+.

Click the link below to view the interactive map.  Click on each state to see details on who made the grade and how they did it.

Pennsylvania did well compared to the rest of the United States however; a B- certainly leaves room for improvement.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/qc/2011/16src.h30.html