Local Tax Hikes Add To Burden Around Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

At least 11 of Luzerne County’s 76 municipalities are increasing real estate taxes this year, according to statistics compiled by the county treasurer’s office.

These increases are on top of an 8-percent tax hike for all county property owners, which amounts to $42 more on a $100,000 property.

White Haven has the highest percentage increase — 31.6.

The owner of a $100,000 property in the borough will pay $60 more, with a tax bill increasing from $190 last year to $250 in 2014.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1138044/Local-tax-hikes-add-to-burden-around-county

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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

Stripped-Down Harley Rebounds From Recession

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

Some motorcycle enthusiasts feared Keith Wandell might be the outsider who drove Harley-Davidson into the ground.  Instead, he may be remembered as the guy who kept the motorcycle maker on the road.

Wandell grabbed the handlebars at the motorcycle maker in the heart of the economic crisis in 2009.  Harley lost $55 million that year, as buying a motorcycle stopped being an option for many consumers.

“We had to make, quickly, some big, bold, decisions,” he said in a recent interview.

Wandell was the first CEO from outside Harley, so those decisions were watched closely.  Not all were well-received.  He got the union’s approval to use temporary workers, which enabled Harley to time its production closer to the peak bike-buying season, saving time and money.  He relied less on middle-aged men in the U.S. to buy the bikes.  And he focused the company on doing what many say it does best: making big, powerful, premium-priced Harleys.  But that meant getting rid of some popular secondary brands.

The company made $624 million last year, the best annual profit since 2008.  It also boosted profit by 30 percent in this year’s first quarter, compared to the same period in 2012.  With lower costs and more efficient production, analysts say Harley is in a good position to grow as the global economy improves and in better shape to weather any future downturn.

Read more:  http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_23421255/stripped-down-harley-rebounds-from-recession

Michigan To Appoint Emergency Fiscal Manager For Detroit

English: City seal of Detroit, Michigan.

English: City seal of Detroit, Michigan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DETROIT — Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan announced on Friday that the city of Detroit is so snarled in financial woes that the state must appoint an emergency manager to lead it out of disaster.

“There is probably no city that is more financially challenged in the entire United States.  If you look at the quality of services for citizens it’s ranked among the worst.  So we went from the top to the bottom over the last 50 or 60 years,” Mr. Snyder told Detroiters in a town-hall-style meeting that was broadcast live on local television stations across the city.

“It’s time to say we should stop going downhill,” he said.  “There have been many good people that have had many plans, many attempts to turn this around, they haven’t worked.  The way I view it, today is a day to call all hands on deck.”

The state-appointed manager, who could be selected later this month, would ultimately wield powers aimed at swiftly turning around the municipal government’s dire circumstances — powers to cut city spending, change contracts with labor unions, merge or eliminate city departments, urge the sale of city assets and even, if all else failed, to recommend bankruptcy proceedings.

Read more:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/02/us/michigan-appoints-emergency-manager-for-detroit.html?hp&_r=0

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

Former Coatesville City Manager Discusses His Termination

Editor’s note:   Sounds so familiar!

COATESVILLE, PA — More than five weeks after he was fired, former City Manager Gary Rawlings discussed recently why he was let go, the situation with the city’s police department and other issues.

City Council never provided the public with a specific reason as to why they terminated Rawlings on June 11. Rawlings said he, too, was never provided with a reason from council for his eventual dismissal.

“I was never given a reason and can only assume,” said Rawlings, who served as manager for 13 months.  “I guess it was that they were unhappy with my style.  But I tried to draw a line between my responsibilities and theirs based on the city charter.  When it came to personnel matters, I told them they had to stay out of it or else they could get in trouble.

”Rawlings said council was “too involved” in the day-to-day management in the city.  He said the council never set goals for him even though it was part of his contract.  He said council should “set goals and then step back” when hiring a city manager.  He said the next manager will also need more time to develop.

“Thirteen months is not enough time to judge someone’s management style,” Rawlings said.

Read more: http://www.dailylocal.com/article/20120723/NEWS01/120729924/former-coatesville-manager-discusses-his-termination&pager=full_story

Scranton’s Leaders Brace For 2012 Staff Cuts

Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty’s reaction to staff cuts contained in city council’s 2012 budget was simple.

“We will do more with less,” Mr. Doherty said Wednesday, reflecting on how his administration plans to grapple with looming personnel reductions after lawmakers on Tuesday night overrode his veto of their $85.3 million 2012 budget.

Despite a wide-ranging list of cuts – including 29 firefighter layoffs proposed by Mr. Doherty himself – the mayor maintained there could be delays in nonessential services, but stressed garbage collection will continue uninterrupted.

“We have to live in the budget they give us,” said Mr. Doherty. “We are going to make it work.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/scranton-s-leaders-brace-for-2012-staff-cuts-1.1250766#ixzz1i37DSzKa