Pottstown Council OKs $39M Budget, Tax Hike Below 1%, Sewer Rates Up 4%

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — The $38.9 million 2014 borough budget was adopted by council with a 5-1-1 vote Monday night after it was announced the tax hike had ducked under the 1 percent mark.

With a 6-1 vote, Council also approved a sewer rate increase of $5 per quarter for the base rate, and an additional 20 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of water used — an increase of about 4 percent.

Borough Manager Mark Flanders announced prior to the budget vote that the 1.01 percent tax hike initially proposed by the administration in November had been cut to 0.95 percent.

For a resident with a home assessed at $85,000, that works out to an increase of $8.39 for the year, he said.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131210/council-oks-39m-budget-tax-hike-below-1-sewer-rates-up-4

Pottstown Cleanup Effort Brings Out Volunteers

Editor’s note:  Evan Brandt did a nice job of promoting a positive event that happened in Pottstown recently which demonstrated some civic pride and community spirit.  Both are in short supply.  We enjoyed reading Evan’s article until this statement caught our eye:

During Monday’s council meeting, Flanders agreed and added, “There are a lot of special interest groups in town who come to borough council asking for fees and permits to be waived.  I didn’t see any of those groups represented and I share that with you as food for thought.”

We have a problem with BM Flander’s comment.  As Borough Manager, you should be trying to unite factions, bring people together and be the biggest promoter of Pottstown.  Instead, we get the above “finger-pointing” comment.  A total “us and them” statement with a negative connotation.

So Mark, do you think making snide comments will encourage any of these groups to pitch in next time there is a community event like this?  There could be any number of reasons why people did not attend.  Every organization can’t take part in every borough activity.  Many of the organizations you are throwing out as “food for thought” are already doing something for the community.  

It’s time to put away the “tough guy” shtick and start acting like a leader who brings people together.   Maybe try to smile more.  You look angry all the time.  It’s hard to feel the love.

POTTSTOWN — A group of about 50 dedicated volunteers braved the heat recently to help spruce up the borough for the summer.

Unlike some previous efforts, efforts which once had Councilman Mark Gibson declare he would no longer help organize such efforts, this most recent clean-up was “a great success and I want to thank the community for doing an excellent job,” he told council at the June 5 meeting.

“Even during the heat, they showed up and they picked up,” Gibson said.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130611/NEWS01/130619784#full_story

Pottstown Council OKs Business Tax Break With 4-3 Vote

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — With a 4-3 vote, borough council Monday night approved a tax-abatement incentive for a hearse and limousine business seeking to take over the vacant former 84 Lumber building at 451 Keystone Blvd.

Councilmen Dan Weand, Travis Gery and Joe Kirkland voted against extending the Keystone Opportunity Zone property tax break, while it was supported by Council President Stephen Toroney, vice president Jeff Chomnuk and council members Mark Gibson and Carol Kulp.

The matter now moves to the school board, which oversees a much larger slice of the borough’s tax burden and stands to sacrifice substantially more money under the proposed agreement.  It is expected to vote on the matter at its March 25 meeting.

The Montgomery County Commissioners, who must also approve the deal, have indicated they will approve it as long as the borough and the school district do, according to Steve Bamford, Pottstown’s chief economic development officer and an advocate for the deal council approved.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130311/NEWS01/130319844/pottstown-council-oks-business-tax-break-with-4-3-vote#full_story

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

Council Vote Will Clear The Way For Drumheller As New Pottstown Police Chief

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — Borough council will vote Tuesday to begin the process of creating a Civil Service list for the position of police captain, thus clearing the way should the current captain, Rick Drumheller, be named the new police chief.

The current chief, Mark Flanders, must retire in April as the result of his participation in an early retirement program.

He is also currently serving as the interim borough managers and several sources have indicated he will be named to that position permanently at Tuesday evening’s meeting.

Last Wednesday night, council, at the urging of Safety Committee Chairman Mark Gibson, indicated it is willing to begin the process of Civil Service Commission testing to create an eligibility list for the rank of captain.

Read more:


Two Pottstown Fire Companies Moving In Together

Editor’s note:  Hallelujah!  This makes complete sense and will help the borough budget!  Two Roy’s Rants thumbs up!

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — One of the four firehouses in the borough is  up for sale and the fire company that has occupied it for 92 years will be moving into another firehouse by December.

Mark Gibson, a longtime member of the Empire Hook and Ladder Co. and its designated spokesman in this matter, confirmed that Empire will move into space at the Goodwill Fire Company on High Street and has put the 7,970-square-foot Empire firehouse at Chestnut and Franklin streets on the market.

The asking price is about $225,000.

Empire members voted overwhelmingly to endorse the move early in the year, he said.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120928/NEWS01/120929441/two-pottstown-fire-companies-moving-in-together

Don Read Suing Mark Gibson Over Comment During Pottstown Borough Council Meeting

I attended this Council meeting and recall the incident in question.  At the time, I thought this was going to end up in a lawsuit.  Frivolous lawsuits are why people have no interest in running for public office and why people are not interested in municipal government.  Over the years I have been asked to run for School Board and Borough Council.  As much as I would like to serve this community, the dirty politics in our town and the propensity to sue people will make me say NO every time.

To read the rest of the story:


Pottstown Borough Council Meeting 12/13/10

The meeting was called to order by President Toroney.

Invocation was given.

Pledge of Allegiance

Roll Call – all Councilors were present

Approval Of Minutes – the last council meeting and special budget meeting minutes were approved.

Comments From Citizens Present:

Dave Garner – Requested that Council not adopt the 2011 budget.  Mr. Garner feels we are rushing to approve this budget and there is still time to continue looking for ways to cut spending.  Dave feels Council is happy to “settle” for 3.1% and basically call it a day.  Mr. Garner believes Council should explain and justify the increase and that the public was not given enough time to study the proposed budget.

Don Read – Also commented on the proposed 2011 budget.  He agreed with Mr. Garner about amount of time the budget was advertised.    

Mr. Read questioned Fund 11 which has a $147,000 deficit.  Don suggested that this fund should be offset in the budget with a surplus or a taxpayer “bailout”. 

Fund 14 had a $55,000 increase or 40% over last year.  This can be increased at council’s discretion.  Mr. Read feels the borough should not pay for dependent children to age 26.  The employee should bear that cost themselves as it does not benefit taxpayers. 

Newstell Marable – President of the Pottstown NAACP wants the new Intermodal Transportation Center named after Charles Dixon. 

Mr. Marable again raised the question of renaming Armand Hammer Boulevard to MLK Boulevard.  He has spoken with PennDOT and said we should involve Senator Rafferty and PennDOT to get this approved.  PennDOT said they are willing to do this.  Mr. Marablel said if Lower Pottsgrove Township will not rename their section, Pottstown should rename the section of Armand Hammer Boulevard that falls within the borough.

Mr. Marable also questioned the borough’s minority hiring practices.

Mayor’s Report – Bonnie said the Police Department has been “quiet” lately.  She spoke about how well the Hometown Holiday events are going and how these events are bringing people together.  The mayor asked people to continue to be involved and thanked everyone for their positive efforts.

Manager’s Report – The Keim Street Bridge.  Jason is meeting with North Coventry Township as well as Chester and Montgomery Counties regularly about the impact of this vital link being closed.  A traffic impact study revealed that a new temporary signal will be placed at Industrial Highway and Moser Road.  There will be a cost sharing with Lower Pottsgrove for the temporary traffic signal and will cost about $5.00 a month for each municipality.  The bridge was in far worse shape than originally thought after the inspection was completed.

Jason is having all borough staff attend customer service training and is working with MCCC West Campus to offer this training.  This is the result of complaints Jason has received from residents about their dealing with borough staff during his tenure as Manager.  (Good idea Jason and glad you are using MCCC West as a resource!)

Our Codes Department is working with Phoenixville and Norristown on the new rental changes software.  The group has become a good resource.

The bridge over the “Mighty Manatawy” on High Street will be closed for 12 – 18 months starting in 2011.  Construction will hopefully begin in March to replace the bridge.  College Drive will be a detour route.

Jason talked about the Fair Housing issue that was raised along with Norristown about the overabundance of Section 8 rentals in Pottstown and Norristown in proportion to the rest of Montgomery County.

Jason talked about the revitalization fund for Montgomery County.  It appears there could be $11 million dollars to be divided up between Montgomery County municipalities in 2011.

Jason is looking at making the monthly ward meetings quarterly in 2011 and coming up with a format change to make the meetings more productive.

Jason is looking into a program that could make Pottstown Borough government more transparent (in light of recent comments circulating around town.)  He reviewed a model program being used in Ocean City, MD that offers a 14-week course on how municipal government functions.  In our case it would be how Pottstown’s government functions.  This would be a great tool for residents and would go along with the planned Citizen Code Academy already in the works.

The long anticipated conversion of the Pottstown Walmart into a SUPER Wallyworld will finally begin this spring if the borough will cooperate with Walmart’s internal needs.

Committee Reports –

Nothing much to report except PDIDA Manager Leighton Wildrick addressed council and gave a brief report about the Hometown Holiday events.  They are a great success!  He thanked the many people who have helped make this possible and stated the word is getting out about how Pottstown is changing and how these large events and a big reason for the buzz.  President Toroney thanked Mr. Wildrick a job well done.

New Business –

Motion to approve the $39,246,650.00 2011 Budget passed.   5 Yes, 1 Abstention (Gibson) and 1 No (Rhoads).  Councilor Gibson abstained because he is a paid driver for the Fire Department.  Since the Fire Fund was one of the reasons for the tax increase, Mr. Gibson felt this was a conflict of interest. (We feel Councilor Gibson did the right thing).

Motion to adopt an Ordinance to fix the borough tax rate for real property for the Year 2011 for several funds including fire and parks and recreation – 5 Yes, 1 Abstention (Gibson) and 1 No (Rhoads)

Janice Lee was appointed to act as Liaison Officer with Berkheimer, Inc. as Berkheimer, Inc. will now be the tax collection agent for the Borough of Pottstown.

The motion to approve PennDOT’s request for a revised detour plan for the High Street Bridge closure using College Drive passed.

Council passed a motion to authorize a letter of intent to the Towns and Tours Grant Program to enhance the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and the marketability of the downtown.

Council passed a motion authorizing Jason to send a letter of support to WGI Holdings, LLC to submit a grant application to the Montgomery County Economic Development Program on behalf of Dave Walsh and his desire to purchase the First Fidelity Building at the corner or High and Hanover Streets.  All Councilors were signing the letter of support.

After much debate Council passed a motion to adopt an official name for the new Transit Center at One Security Plaza.  Councilor Kirkland tried to get a motion on the table to delay this vote, however it was defeated.  The original motion passed 4 – 3 with Rhoads, Gibson and Kirkland voting No.  The majority of council felt there has been enough notice and time given for public comments about the naming of the Transit Center and further delays in passing this motion were unwarranted.

Council approved a motion to authorize borough staff to open negotiations with PCTV.  Councilors Weand and Chomnuk volunteered to be council’s representatives on the committee.  (Good luck gentlemen!)

Council added and passed Motion 28 to work with Walmart so that the expansion of the Pottstown store meets Walmart’s internal scheduling and budgeting.  This means a great deal of money for Pottstown in terms of taxes and fees.  It is in our best interest to work with Walmart in this instance.

Report of Bills – Councilor Weand said they have been paid!

Announcements – There was some unpleasantness between a spectator and Councilor Gibson that was ended by President Toroney banging his gavel and telling them to “take it outside” before things got out of hand. 

Meeting was adjourned.