Allentown Schools Cut 151 Jobs, Hike Taxes 8.2 Percent

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

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

Allentown School Board approved a final 2013-14 budget Thursday that spares full-day kindergarten and most elementary school related arts positions but cuts 151 jobs, sending a ripple effect throughout the district.

School directors voted 5-4 to adopt a spending plan that slashes 127 teachers, 14 administrators and 10 maintenance/custodial workers from the district’s payroll.  The cuts are accompanied by an 8.2 percent tax increase and a $10 million contribution from the district’s savings to keep the district afloat for another school year.

The only change to the $242 million budget was elimination of two vacant administrative positions — director of special projects and director of professional development.  That decision saves about $200,000.

Full-day kindergarten and elementary school music, art and gym teachers, originally in jeopardy of being cut, are retained in the final budget.  But the district will eliminate all five of its elementary librarians along with 19 middle-school related arts teachers.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-schools-final-budget-20130627,0,7917258.story#ixzz2XWm7azLQ
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Harrisburg Mall Assessment Plummets From Nearly $66.5M To Less Than $8M In Three Years

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

A dramatic drop in the Harrisburg Mall‘s tax assessment means Dauphin County, a municipality and school district are collecting an estimated $838,164 a year less in revenue than they did in 2010.

The new value of the mall is $7.987 million — less than one-eighth of the nearly $66.5 million assessed in 2010 and less than half of its 2012 assessment of $17.65 million.

For Swatara Township, that lost revenue, in part, contributed to the township’s need to raise taxes in past years.

Central Dauphin School District remained aware of the property’s decreasing value and took that into consideration concerning its budget.  For Dauphin County, the most recent drop means the loss of less than one-half of a percent of the county’s annual budget.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/harrisburg_mall_assessment_dro.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Reading Schools Begin Pondering $8 Million Budget Gap

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

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

There’s a lot of work still to be done.

Facing a budget gap estimated at about $8 million, that was the overriding message Wednesday night during the first in a series of budget workshops held by the Reading School Board.

Not much new was revealed during the workshop, with Robert Peters, the district’s chief financial officer, simply setting the stage for future budget talks by reviewing the district’s current fiscal status.

Peters said he built the initial $216 million budget – the one with the $8 million hole – without reducing any services or programs.  It includes the maximum allowable tax increase of 2.8 percent, as well as any other projected changes that he could predict to expenditures and revenues.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=465957

Pottsgrove School District Mulls $61 Million Budget With 3.3% Tax Hike

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montg...

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

LOWER POTTSGROVE TOWNSHIP— Facing a potential budget shortfall of $1.9 million, the Pottsgrove School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to advertise a proposed $60.9 million budget for the 2013-14 school year that would raise taxes by $155 for the average district homeowner.

However, those figures are unlikely to remain unchanged until June, when all final school budgets must be adopted.

The district is working under the constraints of Act 1, which requires a district to either declare it will not raise taxes above a state set index — as Pottstown did last month in committing to keep any tax increase at or below 2.4 percent — or advertise a preliminary budget.

The Pottsgrove board chose the second option, voting to advertise a preliminary budget presented publicly for the first time Tuesday night by Business Manager David Nester.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130125/NEWS01/130129618/pottsgrove-mulls-61-million-budget-with-3-3-tax-hike#full_story

Progress Seen In Last-Minute ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Talks

English: President Barack Obama addresses a jo...

English: President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of the United States Congress in the chamber of the House of Representatives at the United States Capitol on 24 February 2009. Español: Presidente Barack Obama dando un discurose por una sesión conjunta del Congreso de los Estados Unidos en la cámara de la Cámara de Representantes en el Capitolio de los Estados Unidos, 24 de febrero de 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON — Working against a midnight deadline, negotiators for the White House and congressional Republicans in Congress narrowed their differences today on legislation to avert across-the-board tax increases.

Congressional officials familiar with talks between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said one major remaining sticking point was whether to postpone spending cuts that are scheduled to begin on Jan 1.

Republicans want to replace across-the-board reductions with targeted cuts elsewhere in the budget, and the White House and Democrats were resisting.

At the same time, Democrats said the two sides were closing in on an agreement over taxes.  They said the White House had proposed blocking an increase for most Americans, while letting rates rise for individuals with incomes of $400,000 a year and $450,000 for couples, a concession from President Barack Obama’s campaign call to set the levels at $200,000 and $250,000.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/Article.aspx?id=439707

Lackawanna County Eliminates Four More Jobs

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Lackawanna County is eliminating four more positions, bringing to 28 the number of county jobs slashed over the past two months to help balance the 2013 budget.

Cutting the four positions will save $184,837 in salaries and benefits next year, according to figures provided by the commissioners’ office.

Chief of staff Maria Elkins said Thursday the latest cuts include the elimination of a secretary’s position in the Department of Human Resources, which will result in a layoff.

Two vacant positions will also be cut, effective at the end of the year, she said. They are an accountant position in the treasurer’s office and a clerk position in the clerk of judicial records office.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/lackawanna-county-eliminates-four-more-jobs-1.1422148

Daniel Boone School Board Disagrees On Fixing Budget Gap

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

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

The members of the Daniel Boone School Board can all agree that the district is entering a scary place financially.

However, the best way to prepare for that continues to be hotly debated.

The board is preparing to pass a tentative budget next week at its voting meeting that would include a 0.3168 mill property tax increase and $1.2 million from the general fund balance to help balance its $52.18 million budget.

The tax increase would make the district’s rate about 29.28 mills, which would mean taxes on a property.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=386246

Pottstown School District Preliminary Budget Has 4.2 Percent Tax Increase

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

The problem with this PSD budget number is that it is above the 2.4 percent increase allowed by the state.  If Mrs. Adams can’t “whittle” down that figure any further, the board will need to ask permission from the state to make an exception and allow a larger tax increase.

The big picture here is that Pottstown Borough Council just passed a budget with a 1.68 percent tax increase.  Pottstown Borough and Pottstown School District occupy the same geographical area and the residents of Pottstown are not just getting one increase, but TWO.  Even if Mrs. Adams can get to the state mandated 2.4 percent increase, taxpayers are on the hook for a 4.08 percent increase.  I am guessing possibly higher.

As Councilor Rhoads has pointed out time and again, most people have a finite amount of money to work with each year.  With the current state of the U.S. economy, finding extra money is very difficult.  Pottstown has a large percentage of senior citizens on fixed incomes.  We also have a large percentage of low-income residents and residents below the poverty level.

People are having to make choices between food, heat, housing and taxes.  This is flat-out wrong.  This spending addiction pissing contest between the Borough of Pottstown and the Pottstown School District is killing the average Pottstown resident.  We are on the edge of the cliff staring down at the bottom of the ravine.  There is no where left to go except down in flames or move out of Pottstown, if that option is even available.  Many people are too financially strapped to even escape.

We do not need four fire companies nor do we need five elementary schools and two annex buildings.  Are we looking at job performance?  If we are not getting enough bang for the buck would outsourcing services make more sense?  We cannot afford all these salaries, benefits and pensions, which make up the lion’s share of both organization’s budgets.  We haven’t even felt the pain of the upcoming pension crisis with the school district. 

The economy is not going to improve fast enough to save the day.  We need long-term financial solutions for both taxing entities in this town.  Frankly, I am not seeing enough effort being made to address these very serious problems that impact 22,377 people by either entity.

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