Scranton School District Faces $2.8 Million Deficit

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

The Scranton School Board approved a preliminary budget Monday that leaves the district with an anticipated $2.8 million deficit for 2013.

The board voted unanimously to approve the $121,198,093 budget, but said the district was still awaiting word from Berkheimer Tax Administrator Inc. regarding funding due from Centax Group and confirmation regarding special education funding.

Kathleen McGuigan, chairwoman of the budget and finance committee, said it is unknown how much money the district will get back from Centax or when the money will come, and she wants to rely only on “solid numbers” and definite funding while considering the 2013 budget.

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Police: $25K In Copper Has Been Stolen From Former Bethlehem Steel Headquarters

A man charged with six burglaries in Bethlehem’s Martin Tower told investigators he was only “exploring” the vacant building, but he was in fact stealing copper, police say.

Repeated thefts of copper from the former headquarters of Bethlehem Steel led to the installation of video and audio recording devices throughout the 21-story building, court records state.

Investigators said those recordings show Erik Michael Hotton, 27, in the building stealing copper, according to an arrest affidavit.  Police say an estimated $25,000 worth of copper has been stolen over the past six weeks.

Hotton, of 927 Tilghman St. in Allentown, is charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, theft and receiving stolen property.  He was sent to Lehigh County Prison under $75,000 bail.

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Thomas Hylton Mentioned In Morning Call Article About Bethlehem School District Building Project

Editor’s note:  This is priceless!!! 

…By sticking to Roy’s timeline, the district will not invite a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and historic preservation advocate, Thomas Hylton, to tour Nitschmann as south Bethlehem resident Stephen Antalics had requested.

Board President Michael Faccinetto said Hylton, who had argued in a recent Morning Call editorial for the cheapest possible renovation of Nitschmann, could present his views at a public meeting.  But Faccinetto said the district would not allow Hylton a private tour of Nitschmann as he had gotten at Broughal before the building was torn down to make room for the new school and its athletic fields.

“The last time he came here, he billed the district $5,000 for his services,” Faccinetto said.

On Nov. 20, Hylton, a member of the Pottstown School Board and president of the nonprofit group Save Our Land, Save Our Towns, said he never offered to tour Nitschmann.  He said he did not know his name was being bantered around the district.

“All I ever did was write the piece in the op-ed,” Hylton said…

Read the whole story here:,0,5200349.story

Lehigh Valley’s Airport Cuts Workers, Services

Aerial photo of Lehigh Valley International Ai...

Aerial photo of Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABE, ICAO: KABE) in Hanover Township, 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bowing under the weight of massive debt and dwindling passengers, Lehigh Valley International Airport officials acted Tuesday to eliminate a dozen jobs and cut services such as valet parking and the airport parking shuttle.

The $19.6 million 2013 budget will mean minor inconveniences for passengers who will soon have to park their own cars, book their own flights and walk from even the most distant parking areas, but the heaviest burdens are being shouldered by airport workers losing their jobs.

Among the 12 jobs being cut Jan. 1 are seven grounds crew and ticket-counter workers, a construction manager and the airport’s only travel agent.

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‘Nuisance’ Snow Deposits About Half-Inch Across Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Officially, winter doesn’t begin until Dec. 21.

But Lancaster County got a small taste of it Tuesday.

On average, about a half inch of snow coated Lancaster County during a morning snowstorm, according to the National Weather Service.

Higher elevations in the county’s northern half saw a little bit more.

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New Report Warns Of Looming Pennsylvania Pension Shortfall

HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett‘s budget office indicated Monday that the governor may attempt to reduce the pensions of current public employees, a politically volatile and legally questionable solution to what has become a $41 billion unfunded liability.

In a new report on the state’s two large public-sector pensions, the budget office warned of the potential for higher taxes, program cuts, lower business growth and steeper borrowing costs because of the state’s financial obligations toward the State Employees’ Retirement System and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System.

The financial pressures from the pension systems have loomed over state finances for more than a decade, and Corbett, a Republican, repeatedly has spoken of a desire to make changes to them.

The report says higher taxes “should be off the table,” but reductions in prospective benefits for current employees should be considered.

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Reading City Council Approves Budget, Tax Hikes

Editor’s note:  For those folks in Pottstown, please note that Reading is 4 times as large as Pottstown, yet their budget is only twice as big.

City Council on Monday adopted a $77 million budget for 2013, as well as the increases in property, local earned income and commuter taxes needed to make it work.

• The property tax will rise by 9.45 percent, or 1.355 mills, to a total of 15.689 mills.  An owner with a property assessed at $50,000 will pay an extra $67.75.

• The local earned income tax on city residents will rise by 0.2 percentage points to 3.6 percent.  That rate includes the Reading School District‘s share.

• And the commuter tax will rise by the same 0.2 points, to 0.3 percent.

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