Pennsylvania Tax Burden Ranks 10th Nationally

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvanians’ state and local tax burden reached its lowest point in more than a decade in 2011, but it still climbed to rank as the nation’s 10th most onerous, up two spots from the year before, an analysis released this week shows.

The Washington-based Tax Foundation said Pennsylvanians shelled out $4,374 per capita in state and local taxes in 2011, or 10.3 percent of their per-capita income of $42,268. About 10.5 percent of income went toward state and local taxes in 2010, the foundation said.

“This trend was largely driven by the growth of income,” said Tax Foundation economist Liz Malm, explaining the slight decline.

About 27 percent of Pennsylvanians’ tax money went to other states. Aside from sales, excise, income, corporate and other taxes paid in other states, the Tax Foundation factors what it calls tax exporting.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5882443-74/tax-state-taxes#ixzz2y3z5waOg
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Conference Generates Ideas For Tackling Poverty In Reading

, U.S. Congressman (R-Pennsylvania, 1997-present)

, U.S. Congressman (R-Pennsylvania, 1997-present) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fatherless families, a lack of jobs and school dropout rates contribute to poverty and local economic conditions, U.S. Rep. Joseph R. Pitts said Monday.

“Families with fathers and mothers are the best anti-poverty program,” said the Chester County Republican, whose district includes Reading. “Saying these simple things can land you in all kinds of trouble.”

He was speaking at a conference on economic inequality that he organized at Reading Area Community College.

In an interview afterward, Pitts listed some points raised during the four-hour event that he will pursue.

“We will come up with some projects,” Pitts said.

While some of the 75 political, business and nonprofit leaders who participated agreed with Pitts’ points, several made their own arguments for improving the economy in Reading, where the 2012 poverty rate of 40.5 percent made it the second most impoverished city in the country behind Detroit.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131210/NEWS/312109974/1052#.UqeN0fRDsxI

With House Passage, All Are Aboard State Transportation Bill

Pennsylvania state map county outlines

Pennsylvania state map county outlines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Billions in new taxes and spending for roads, bridges and mass transit in Pennsylvania comfortably cleared a final legislative hurdle Thursday with a bipartisan vote to send a long-stalled bill to the governor.

The state House voted 113-85 to tax gasoline and raise motorist fees over five years to generate at least $2.3 billion in annual additional funding.

Gov. Tom Corbett said in brief remarks at an appearance with a few dozen legislators that he perceived an urgent need to address transportation infrastructure after taking office three years ago.

He said passage of the vote showed leadership and mentioned concerns about public safety several times.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519891

Phoenixville Rejects Hiring Additional Police Officer

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

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

PHOENIXVILLE, PA — Borough council voted 5-2 Tuesday to turn down a request to budget for a 29th officer for the Phoenixville Police Department.

Supporting the addition of a police officer were East Ward council members David Gautreau and council Vice President Michael Speck, who was recently elected mayor. Negative votes came from all other council members at the meeting. Middle Ward council member Jennifer Mayo was absent.

Borough Manager E. Jean Krack said he and Finance Manager Stephen Nease could, if necessary, find room in the budget to add another officer without raising taxes. The proposed budget does include the addition of two persons to the streets department, one to sanitation and one to public works.

“We have looked at our projections, and we believe that, if it was council’s pleasure, that we could work on the revenue side to get some additional dollars,” Krack said.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/government-and-politics/20131113/phoenixville-rejects-hiring-additional-police-officer

Time To Top 20 Percent Turnout In Tuesday’s Election

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something perplexing happens in municipal elections like the one coming up Tuesday.

The public officials being elected have the most direct impact on people’s lives.

Yet turnout of registered voters – usually less than 20 percent – is the lowest in the four-year election cycle.

These officials make sure roads are plowed in winter and grass in parks is mowed in summer. They hire contractors for road repairs. They oversee police. They pass zoning laws that dictate where housing developments should go and where businesses should be built, which can impact land values.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=518129

Budget Preparations Getting Started In Pottstown Borough

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

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.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131019/budget-preparations-getting-started-in-pottstown-borough

Mall At Steamtown Battles For Survival

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

As Bon-Ton reported it will vacate the Mall at Steamtown in January, department store magnate Al Boscov admits the shopping complex is battling for its existence.

“I am trying to figure out ways that we can survive,” said Boscov, who developed the $101 million Lackawanna Avenue complex and is a principal in the group that owns the facility.

Bon-Ton reported it will close its 100,000-square-foot store in the mall before its lease expires Jan. 31. Spokeswoman Mary Kerr said it probably will cease operations between Jan. 26 and Jan. 29.

“It’s sad. It’s certainly something that we don’t want to do,” Kerr said. “We do have to make these hard decisions at times.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/mall-at-steamtown-battles-for-survival-1.1570580

Moving Harrisburg Forward Might Be Impossible Without Settling Present

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

The forum was supposed to focus on the future of Harrisburg. And to a large extent, it did. But the reality of city’s present casts a long shadow over any discussion in the capital these days.

At some point in the next three months, it is likely the Harrisburg recovery plan, whether you support it or not, is going to go into effect, essentially eliminating the city’s massive debts and putting its government back on the path to some form of solvency.

How much it is able to carry that past the next four years remains unknown. But the future of the city, whether it stagnates or begins a new renaissance, will largely be in its own hands, unencumbered from debt obligations.

At its core, argues developer Ralph Vartan, is a simple equation. Of the 58,000 people who work in the city, only about 10,000 live in the city. That is further unbalanced by the fact that over the last several decades the regional population has almost doubled, while Harrisburg’s has stagnated.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/09/moving_harrisburg_forward_may.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Pa. Leads In Casino Tax Revenue

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/homepage/20130825_Pa__leads_in_casino_tax_revenue.html#uKHaJOE3IE0lGZlb.99

Federal Grand Jury Indicts PA Cyber Charter School Founder Nicholas Trombetta And His Accountant

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nicholas Trombetta, a onetime wrestling coach who founded the wildly successful PA Cyber Charter School, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on a variety of fraud and tax charges.

A 41-page indictment made public this morning outlined the federal government’s allegations against Mr. Trombetta and his accountant, Neal Prence.

“This investigation is active and continues,” U.S. Attorney David Hickton said during a press conference this morning at the FBI field office on Pittsburgh‘s South Side.

Federal investigators tallied the amount they said Mr. Trombetta stole at $990,000.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/federal-grand-jury-indicts-pa-cyber-charter-school-founder-nick-trombetta-and-his-accountant-700493/#ixzz2coSV4x1p

Survey: Chester County Residents Upbeat But Hate Traffic, High Taxes

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

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

Chester County residents like the county’s open space and scenery, but also value highly its proximity to metropolitan areas. They use its libraries and parks like gangbusters, and are confident its 911 and emergency response systems.

They do not, however, like the traffic and road conditions they encounter or the taxes they pay.  They wish the county government would do more to help create job and business opportunities and manage the suburban sprawl that continues to plague the countryside.

In general, county residents see they place they live as an excellent place to raise a family, get a good education, and buy a home — even if they have a sense that it might not live up to the same expectations when looking to retire, open a business, or find a job.

Those, in part, are the results of a unique survey done to assess the quality of life in Chester County, completed earlier this summer by the Center for Social & Economic Policy Research at West Chester University.  The survey results follow up on a similar project completed in 2009 by Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

Read more:   http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130729/NEWS01/130729442/survey-chester-county-residents-upbeat-but-hate-traffic-high-taxes#full_story

Reading School Budget Would Raise Taxes

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

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

The group of about 25 spectators gathered inside the Reading School District‘s board room Monday, made up mostly of district employees, waited patiently.

They waited as the board discussed an administrative job chart.  Waited through detailed questions about a bond.  Waited through a two-hour executive session where the board discussed personnel.

They waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.

“They’re trying to get us to leave,” a member of the crowd remarked.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=487166

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

Tax On Airline Flights Could Increase

The cost of flying might be going up, but this time it’s not the airlines raising prices.

The Obama administration has proposed raising the taxes on air travel by about $14 per flight, a move airlines strongly oppose.

Higher taxes are needed to help reduce the deficit, pay for improvements at the nation’s airports and add thousands of new immigration and customs officers to reduce wait times to process foreign visitors, the administration says.

Airlines say higher taxes will backfire and hurt the economy.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/la-fi-travel-briefcase-20130527,0,2840007.story

Budget Presentation Disappoints Reading School Board

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

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

The third time was not the charm.

The Reading School Board held its third budget workshop Wednesday night, and for the third time board members were disappointed.

It wasn’t because of the scope of proposed cuts needed to close a more than $8-million budget gap, but rather because of the lack of information. Again.

Administrators provided the board with a list of proposed changes – ranging from trying to bring some outsourced special education services back to cutting assistant principals from 12-month to 10-month employees – but did not provide a comprehensive plan to balance the budget.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=476031

U.S. Employers Add 165,000 Jobs; Rate Falls To 7.5 Percent

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers added 165,000 jobs in April, and hiring was much stronger in the previous two months than the government first estimated.  The job increases helped reduce the unemployment rate from 7.6 percent to a four-year low of 7.5 percent.

The report today from the Labor Department was a reassuring sign that the U.S. job market is improving despite higher taxes and government spending cuts that took effect this year.

The government revised up its estimate of job gains in February and March by a combined 114,000.  It now says employers added 332,000 jobs in February and 138,000 in March.  The economy has created an average of 208,000 jobs a month from November through April — above the 138,000 added in the previous six months.

The number of unemployed fell 83,000 to 11.7 million.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=474934

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

Federal Budget Cuts Will Affect More Than Federal Programs, Officials In Scranton Say

English: Official photo of Senator Bob Casey (...

English: Official photo of Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration will hurt everything from the local barbershop to the largest manufacturers in Northeast Pennsylvania, said members of a panel at Sen. Bob Casey’s office Friday in downtown Scranton.

With no deal between Congress and the White House in sight and just hours before sequestration kicked in at midnight, the Democratic senator and a cross-section of local civic leaders struck a dire tone.

“We don’t have a full sense of what will happen,” Mr. Casey said.  “If this goes a day or week, it will have an impact.  If it goes six months, the effect will be devastating.”

As the furloughs and cuts begin, sequestration will have an immediate impact not just on the government employees, but on contractors, and the communities where they live and spend.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/federal-budget-cuts-will-affect-more-than-federal-programs-officials-in-scranton-say-1.1452684

Armstrong’s Yearly Profit Climbs

Armstrong World Industries today reported a small drop in net profits for the fourth quarter but a sizable increase for the year.

For the quarter, net profits slid 1.2 percent to $8.4 million (14 cents a share) from $8.5 million (14 cents a share) in the 2011 quarter.

Sales dipped 1.6 percent to $612.8 million.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/816802_Armstrong-s-yearly-profit-climbs.html#ixzz2LOK0sAFf

Daniel Boone School Board Tentatively OKs Drastic Cuts

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

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

The Daniel Boone School Board is moving forward with a preliminary 2013-14 budget that includes drastic cuts.

The board voted 6-2 Monday to pass a preliminary $54.9 million budget that closes a nearly $5 million gap by raising taxes the maximum amount, furloughing nearly 40 employees and eliminating kindergarten and all extracurricular activities, including sports.

Board members Connor J. Kurtz and Kevin F. McCullough voted no and Robert D. McLaughlin was absent.

More than 100 residents attended the meeting, with many speaking out against the cuts outlined in the preliminary budget.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=452236