Report: Pa. House Bill To Abolish School Property Taxes Would Fall $1.5 Billion Short

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG — A House bill to eliminate all school property taxes would fall $1.5 billion short of generating enough money to replace the revenue existing property taxes raise, according to a report from Pennsylvania‘s Independent Fiscal Office.

“The IFO has confirmed the views I held in June,” when the bill was tabled, said Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, who released the report over the weekend. “House Bill 1776 simply does not raise the revenue it claims to provide.”

Sponsors of the bill estimated it would raise about $10 billion a year by increasing the state’s income tax rate to 4 percent from 3.04 percent and the state sales tax rate to 7 percent from 6 percent.

Allegheny County‘s rate, already at 7 percent, would jump to 8 percent.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Is Billions Of Dollars In Debt

Map of the Pennsylvania Turnpike

Map of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Stop the madness!

PHILADELPHIA – The Pennsylvania Turnpike may be on the road to the poorhouse.

Required by a 2007 state law to provide billions of dollars for statewide road and bridge repairs and transit operations, the turnpike is spending more money each year than it makes, despite toll increases that have doubled the cost to travel the turnpike over the last 10 years.

To meet the financial demands created by the law, Act 44, turnpike officials have borrowed aggressively, leaving the agency deeper in debt each year.

The Turnpike Commission is now more than $7 billion in debt, up from $2 billion in 2002 and $4 billion in 2009. The burden continues to grow, with the turnpike required to make payments until 2057.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=411605

Harrisburg City Council Adopts 2012 Budget With 16 Percent Tax Hike

Harrisburg City Council tonight adopted a $54.3 million 2012 budget that includes a 16 percent real estate tax hike for homeowners.

The increase will tack on $50 to $100 in real estate taxes for most property owners.  A person whose property is assessed at $50,000 would pay $40 more annually in property taxes.  Property owners with houses valued at $100,000 would pay an additional $80 in taxes per year.

Council’s budget cuts spending by $1.2 million compared to the $55.5 million plan Mayor Linda Thompson introduced last month. Thompson’s proposal also included a 16 percent tax hike.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/12/harrisburg_city_council_adopts.html

Harrisburg Area Community College Scores Home Run With York County Branch

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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When Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) opened their York County branch in 2003, I wonder if anyone could have predicted the rapid growth that followed.

Community Colleges are a great alternative to four-year institutions because of the price differential and flexibility they offer.  For a fraction of the cost associated with traditional four-year institutions, students can work full-time and attend classes around their busy schedules for a substantially lower cost per credit hour.

HACC’s York College branch has seen tremendous growth.  The York campus saw a 34% increase in enrollment between 2008 and 2009.  Enrollment stands and 2,900 students, which is up 5% since the Spring 2010 semester.  There is competition in the York market for college students.  York College, Penn State York and nearby Millersville University already compete for students.  To have the student body swell to nearly 3,000 students in only 8 years demonstrates a need in the York market for affordable education.

The York branch is the fastest growing campus in the HACC family.  HACC has campuses in Harrisburg, Gettysburg, Lebanon, Lancaster and York as well as a Virtual Campus.  There are more than 23,000 students are enrolled at HAAC’S five brick and mortar campuses and over 5,300 at the Virtual Campus (online courses).

For more information:  http://www.hacc.edu/

Harsco Corporation Turning Little Used Site Near Capitol Into Regional Warehouse And Distribution Center

Recreation of the flag of the city of Harrisbu...

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The City of Harrisburg is going to benefit from more urban renewal when Harsco Corporation turns a 21-acre site near the Pennsylvania State Capitol into a regional warehouse and distribution center.

The number of jobs created is relatively small at 20; however the site gets cleaned up and given a purpose.  Considering its proximity to our State Capitol Complex, this is good news as it will enhance the appearance the area surrounding the capitol.  Harsco is spending $2 million to renovate the site which is a significant investment in the City of Harrisburg.  The improvements should be completed by April.

More good news is that Harsco will be relocating 35 senior-level positions to a new site near its Camp Hill headquarters.  This move will help Harsco’s leadership function as a more unified team.

To learn more about this company, you may click on their website:

http://www.harsco.com/

Harrisburg City Council Opts For Transparency With Act 47 Meeting

Pennsylvania’s capital city officially entered Act 47 in December, thereby officially making Harrisburg a “financially distressed” municipality and eligible for state help to emerge from their enormous debt, caused by the retrofit of the Harrisburg incinerator.

Four Harrisburg City Council members publically declined a “private” meeting with the new “Act 47 financial guru’s” today.  Council members objected to private meetings with the Act 47 taxpayer-paid team.  The meeting was characterized as a “get to know each other” routine introduction by officials from the Department of Community and Economic Development.  To get around the open meeting requirements, “Sunshine Law”, the meetings were to take place with three or fewer members of Council at a time. 

These four courageous councilors feel the process is too important to not involve residents of Harrisburg.  The public should have the opportunity to hear the information as it is delivered to Council.

We give two Roy’s Rants thumbs up to Harrisburg City Council’s observance of the Sunshine Law and transparency in city government.  Harrisburg has a long road ahead to get out from under the incinerator debt.  The public deserves the courtesy of open meetings when this important issue is discussed.

Midtown Harrisburg Becoming Arts And Cultural District: Susquehanna Art Museum Moving To Midtown

Streetscape of 1400 block of 2nd street in Har...

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A vacant property is set to become the new home of the Susquehanna Art Museum in Midtown Harrisburg.  Midtown is a neighborhood in transition.  If you recall my 3rd in the Burg post, I touched on Harrisburg’s emerging arts and cultural scene.  This neighborhood has become a focal point of urban renewal and revitalization by making itself a “destination” that is attracting people to Harrisburg.

Millions of dollars are being poured into Midtown redevelopment.  Creative business owners like Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Midtown Cinema, Midtown Harrisburg Arts Center and a growing list of restaurants and cafés are also leading the way.  The addition of the Susquehanna Art Museum will strengthen the fledgling district and attract more business to the area.  Having events like 3rd in the Burg already in place will only accelerate revitalization efforts.

Another huge addition to Midtown will be the new federal courthouse that will break ground in 2013.  The $130 million building will bring an influx of workers into the neighborhood that have disposable income to spend on things like food and arts/culture, along with other businesses that will sprout up as the result of all this development.  The site of the new federal courthouse is now a parking lot.

GreenWorks Development has been busy spending redevelopment dollars in Midtown.  They own a large amount of property in the neighborhood, including the new museum site.  In addition to the $50 million they have spent thus far, they plan to spend another $75 million on future projects.  Harrisburg Area Community College and Fulton Bank have already benefited from GreenWorks’ projects.  A four-story Campus Green building, costing $14.3 million, is another project that has benefited Midtown.  GreenWorks is also involved with residential development by creating affordable and market-priced housing in Midtown, which will be critical for Midtown’s continued redevelopment.

Midtown Development has also been a player in this neighborhood’s revitalization efforts by renovating blighted properties.

Local business owners and residents are optimistic.  Most see a bright future for Midtown.  There are always some skeptics and detractors, but the majority of residents see these changes as taking their neighborhood in the right direction.  There is still a long road ahead and things take time, but tangible progress is being made to revitalize Midtown Harrisburg and make it “the place to be” in Pennsylvania’s capital city.

Pennsylvania Auto Show Starts This Thursday

  • When: 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-5p.m. Sunday.
  • Where: Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center 2301 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg
  • Admission: Adults: $8, senior citizens (62 and over): $5, active military (with ID): $5, students (with ID) $5, children (7-12) $3, children (6 and under) free.
  • Discount coupons: $2 off one weekday adult admission at www.AutoShowHarrisburg.com, participating new car dealers and participating McDonald’s restaurants.

Read the entire article from pennlive.com here:

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/01/pennsylvania_auto_show_time_as.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

Pennsylvania State Workers Have Bad Case Of The Jitters – Layoffs Loom Again

Map of Pennsylvania

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Many state workers fear that Tom Corbett will keep his pledge to downsize the number of state employees by a 10% across the board cut as promised during his campaign.  Governor-elect Corbett wants to review the funding for each state program to make sure they are operating correctly. 

The Service Employees Union has prepared a list of nonpersonnel cost-saving suggestions that could save Pennsylvania millions of dollars.  The same union has a large number of employees that will qualify for retirement next year thereby eliminating workers by attrition instead of layoffs.

Pennsylvania has a huge pension crisis looming on the horizon along with other financial problems that are recession related.  Hard choices will need to be made to cover the multi-billion-dollar budget gap.  Early retirement incentives are being offered to state employees as a way to cut the state’s workforce.

Pennsylvania has the second largest state government while being the sixth largest state in population.  Many hard choices will need to be made to get Pennsylvania’s financial house in order.

Fast Eddie Seeks White House Chief of Staff Job

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel looks ...

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More proof that Fast Eddie is losin’ it!  IMHO you suck as governor so why would anyone give you a position of greater importance that would allow you to do more damage on a larger scale.  Nice subtle hint by the way!

You’re right Ed, talk of you replacing Rahm Emmanuel as chief of staff is ludicrous”.

Made me bang my head on the computer desk over this one!

Scranton Mayor Enters Race For PA Governor

Ed Rendell has served his two terms as our governor so now it is someone else’s turn to lead Pennsylvania.  This list of those seeking to be elected to Pennsylvania’s highest office continues to grow.

Chris Doherty plans to kick off his campaign at noon today in the Electric City.  Scranton has been undergoing a renaissance of sorts during Doherty’s tenure as mayor with millions of dollars in redevelopment money pouring into the city.  One example would be an urban renewal project in center city known as 500 Lackawanna Avenue.

Scranton has also come into the national spotlight as the setting for the very popular NBC sitcom “The Office”.  Scranton has been trying to capitalize on being the home of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.  There is an Office Convention and fan tours are held in Scranton.

Along with Doherty, other democractic candidates include Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel, Philadelphia businessman John Knox, PA Auditor General Jack Wagner and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. 

Republican candidates include PA Attorney General Tom Corbett and US Representative Jim Gerlach from the PA 6th District.

If anybody from the Scranton area has any insight on Chris Doherty, a comment to educate those of us not from the Wyoming Valley would be appreciated.

The primary election will be spring 2010.