Restoring Aging Lancaster County-Owned Bridges Tied To Natural Gas Impact Fee

On sparsely traveled back roads across Lancaster County, more than two dozen narrow, unassuming bridges built in a simpler era are showing their age.

Concrete is weathered and cracking. The decks are no longer safe for even moderate loads.

The Lancaster County commissioners are addressing the problem by turning to impact fee revenue from natural gas drillers. As of February, the county had $2.2 million available, said county engineer Scott Russell of Rettew Associates.

The commissioners are counting on continuing impact fee revenue to help fund the replacement or repair of nearly all 44 county-owned concrete or steel bridges over the next five years.

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Changes Coming To Lancaster And Berks Transit, But A Combined New Authority Won’t Look Different To Bus Riders

Picture 565Lancaster’s Red Rose Transit Authority board took its first formal step toward a merger with Berks County’s BARTA system on Wednesday.

But the combined South Central Transit Authority will be indistinguishable from the present RRTA and BARTA.

“We’ll form a new authority and nobody will know the difference,” RRTA Executive Director David Kilmer said.

The single authority will operate RRTA and BARTA buses in their respective counties. The names on the buses will not change, nor will their colors.

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Lancaster County Nearly Has Balanced Budget

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Lancaster County is only about $22,000 shy of balancing next year’s general fund budget, and officials expect to have that covered by Monday, when the entire $252.8 million spending plan is presented to the public.

The plan calls for departmental cuts of 2.75 percent, about $1.3 million in savings from a new high-deductible health insurance plan and a 9.3 percent tax increase — the first to be considered by the current board of commissioners.

The budget also includes raises of 2.75 percent for employees and doesn’t call for layoffs.

Maggie Weidinger, the county’s director of information technology and budget services, went over parts of the plan with the county commissioners on Thursday.

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Lancaster County Budget Plan Splits Board

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

County property taxes would increase for the first time under the current county administration with a plan Commissioner Dennis Stuckey offered Wednesday.

His plan would increase taxes by about 9.3 percent and would include raises for employees of 2.75 percent, along with departmental cuts of about 2.75 percent.

For a home assessed at the county average of $148,000, a property owner would pay about $553, or about $48 more, next year. The millage rate would increase from 3.416 to 3.741 under Stuckey’s plan.

“I don’t throw this out or offer it up lightly,” he said. “It’s not something I particularly want to do or take pleasure in, but I feel like the best course of action is a little more even approach going in to next year, offering something to our employees … and trying to get some value that will assist us in protecting our cash reserve.”

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