Opposition Builds To Library Funding Cut By Lower Pottsgrove Township

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montg...

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

LOWER POTTSGROVE TOWNSHIP, PA — The township commissioners’ decision to reconsider its 2014 funding for the Pottstown Regional Public Library has resulted in a swelling of support for the library and a number of efforts to keep the funding intact.

Earlier this month when the Board of Commissioners reorganized, the new majority announced its intention to open up the 2014 budget adopted one month earlier and reduce funding to the Pottstown Regional Public Library on High Street.

Paradoxically, in December, Lower Pottsgrove had joined with both Upper Pottsgrove and Pottstown borough in increasing the allocation to the library for 2014.

In Lower Pottsgrove’s case, the commissioners had agreed in December to increase the annual allocation by $5,000 — up to $65,000.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140118/opposition-builds-to-library-funding-cut-by-l-pottstrove

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New Lower Pottsgrove Board Wants To Cut Library Funding, Add Police

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montg...

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

LOWER POTTSGROVE — New township commissioners’ Chairman Bruce Foltz is the first to acknowledge that he and the new majority on the board made a lot of changes in their first meeting of the year Monday night.

In fact, he said so in comments at the close of the meeting.

“We want the staff, fire department, solicitor, and commissioners to have the same goal; for the township to be user friendly,” said Foltz at the close of Monday’s re-organization meeting during which he was elected chairman and many of the immediate changes were implemented.

“We want to bring businesses into the township and have it not be a hassle, with all the back and forth, for our contractors and developers,” Foltz said.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140106/new-lower-pottsgrove-board-wants-to-cut-library-funding-add-police

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Americans On Food Stamps

English: Logo of the .

English: Logo of the . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The number of people using food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increased by an average of 13 percent a year from 2008 to 2012.  House Republicans dropped funding for food stamps from a new version of the farm bill.  Voting takes place Thursday.  Read related article.

Click here to see map of US with 2012 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation levels by state: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/food-stamps/

Twin Valley Considers Shorter School Day

Faced with a projected shortfall of $1.2 million for 2013-14, Twin Valley School District officials met with residents Wednesday to explore trimming costs in ways that students wouldn’t notice.

But administrators acknowledged there was one exception to that goal: a compacted school day.

“This is why you’re all here,” acknowledged Dr. Robert F. Pleis, superintendent.

More than 50 district residents attended the town hall-style meeting at Twin Valley Elementary Center, where a team of administrators detailed cost-cutting options that emerged from focus groups earlier this year.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=432046

Budget Rift Deepens Between Reading And Act 47 Consultants

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rift between the city and its outside consultants, hired by the state to enforce the city’s Act 47 financial recovery plan, got deeper Wednesday as Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer’s administration and City Council worked on the proposed 2013 budget.

The community development department wants to spend more money next year, offset by higher fee revenues.

The consultants, led by Philadelphia-based Public Financial Management Inc., have told the city to work harder on cutting expenses before seeking new ways of raising money.

“Do we need PFM’s permission to do that?” city Auditor David M. Cituk asked of the higher spending plan.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/Article.aspx?id=421732

8 States With Deepest Funding Cuts

Editor’s note:  Pennsylvania did NOT make this list….you may be surprised by some of the states that did!

The Great Recession pinched state governments, forcing them to be less generous with local communities which, in turn, had less to spend on students, police and programs for the poor.

For nearly three decades, local governments could count on a steady increase in money from their two biggest funding sources — the states and property taxes.

That changed in 2009 and 2010, when local governments took in less from both sources, according to a report last month from the Pew American Cities Project.  The funding shortfall has forced many cities, towns, counties and school districts to tighten their belts.

24/7 Wall St identified the eight states making the steepest cuts in funding to local governments. The website’s analysis of data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that these states were having their own budget problems as tax receipts shriveled in an anemic economy.

Read more: http://money.msn.com/investing/8-states-with-deepest-funding-cuts

Little Relief Anticipated As School Taxes Rise In Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

School property taxes have risen more sharply this year than in 2011-12 as Lancaster County school districts continue to struggle with stagnant revenues and surging expenses.

State funding for basic education has been flatlined for most Lancaster County school districts for 2012-13, and local sources of revenue are stagnant or declining as more property owners successfully appeal their assessments.

In addition, school officials say, there was less fat to be cut from budgets this year because so many districts implemented steep spending cuts and wage freezes in 2011-12.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/687758_Little-relief-anticipated-as-school-taxes-rise-here.html#ixzz20bremAN8

Shuttered Schools Are Costly To Keep But Selling Them Can Be Unprofitable

When a school’s doors are closed for good, a building that cost millions to build can sit vacant and unused for years until it’s sold for a fraction of its worth.

The state of the economy, zoning laws and the institutional makeup of the structures all make schools a hard sell. And as long as the district owns the building, it has to pay for maintenance even if no warm bodies are moving through the hallways.

Doug Haring, a city real estate appraiser, said selling schools has become brutally expensive.

“Everything is a lot harder to do today, and that translates into more expense,” Haring said, referring to stricter zoning laws and municipal building code restrictions.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=396633

Schools’ Financial Squeeze Gives Rise To Questions About Future Of Early Education In Pennsylvania

Editor’s note:  If you read the rest of the article you’ll see a list of districts who are struggling.

On Wednesday, we’ll know if Harrisburg will become the first school district in the state to eliminate kindergarten.

Maybe the novel idea to privately pay for kindergarten through tax credits for businesses will come through, maybe it won’t. Maybe the state will suddenly increase school funding.

Or maybe, as parents have feared all spring, 5-year-olds will spend this fall at home instead of in a classroom.

Looking at the school district — another annual deficit, another year of cutting programs, owing $471 million on past projects — it’s easy to think Harrisburg is the worst example of a broken system.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/06/schools_financial_squeeze_give.html

Allentown School Taxes Could Rise Nearly 5%

English: View of Allentown, Pa from Keck Park

English: View of Allentown, Pa from Keck Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Allentown School Board on Thursday approved a proposed $235 million spending plan for 2012-13 that includes a nearly 5 percent tax hike.

The board’s 8-1 vote means a property owner’s tax bill would rise about $86, to $1,890, on a home assessed at the district’s $37,500 average. The millage rate would go up 2.3 mills to about 50.4.

Superintendent Russ Mayo faulted Gov. Tom Corbett for shifting a greater financial burden on school districts.

He said the governor’s proposed state budget for 2012-13 has about $100 million less for kindergarten, tutoring and class-size programs. That’s on top of the $900 million in school funding he cut statewide in 2011-12.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-school-budget-0524-20120525,0,4061905.story

Fleetwood School District Jobs In Jeopardy

Northbound Pennsylvania Route 662 (Main Street...

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More than a dozen Fleetwood School District employees will likely be furloughed or demoted in an attempt to battle a bulging budget gap.

Dr. Paul B. Eaken, superintendent, said Friday that he had met with the employees – teachers and support staff – to notify them their jobs are expected to be eliminated or reduced next school year.

The district is facing a hole of at least $847,000 in its $38.6 million 2012-13 budget. The staffing moves would save the district about $850,000, Eaken said.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=368747

Pittsburgh’s Port Authority Transit Facing 35 Percent Cuts In Service And Major Layoffs

The Port Authority has begun preparing for service cuts that are more than twice the size of the reductions that took effect in March, when thousands of riders were stranded and others jammed into overcrowded buses.

CEO Steve Bland told the authority board last week that planning has begun for a 35 percent reduction in service hours that will come next fall if Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature fail to act on a statewide transportation funding shortfall.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11333/1193283-53.stm#ixzz1f949DohH

Pottstown School District Administrators Agree To Pay Freeze

I am pleased to learn that Act 93 employees and PSD administrators have taken voluntary pay freezes.  The teaching staff is not part of this group.  The Pottstown Federation of Teachers is now involved in a contact dispute with the district that is not going well. 

Teachers in the Fleetwood School District (Berks County) have been asked to take voluntary pay freezes, along with the administration, which will save the Fleetwood School District $800,000. 

Teachers in the Twin Valley School District (Chester County) have been asked to take voluntary pay freezes, along with the administration, which will save the Twin Valley School District $600,000 to $700,000 a year.  The Superintendent, Dr. Robert F. Pleis has already volunteered to take a pay freeze along with his colleagues at Fleetwood and Pottstown.

We give the PSD administration two Roy’s Rants thumbs up for leading by example.

The board also voted NO on “forward borrowing”.  “Forward borrowing” would have allowed the district to borrow up to an additional $23 million, over and above the $28 million already authorized.  The $28 million was authorized for renovations at the district’s five elementary schools.  We applaud the fiscal responsibility shown by the board.  PSD already has an enormous debt from the renovations at the high school and middle school.  Taxpayers cannot afford more debt.  Any amount over $28 million will need voter approval!