Upper Merion Area School Board Hires New Superintendent, Passes Budget

UPPER MERION TOWNSHIP, PA – Starting next school year the Upper Merion Area School District will not only be operating under new leadership, but also under a $89,641,840 million budget with a 3.27 percent tax increase following Monday night’s board meeting.

The board voted 8 to 1 to hire John Toleno, the current superintendent of Stroudsburg Area School District in Pennsylvania, beginning a three-year contract as the district’s new superintendent that starts July 20, 2015 and ends August 31, 2018.

Board member David Karen voted against hiring Toleno, saying he did not think that Toleno displayed the vision that he hoped to detect in the right candidate for the position.

“Personally during the interview process I was not able to detect in Dr. Toleno the overall educational and administrative vision that would take this district to its aspiration of continual improvement and inspiring excellence in every students every day,” Karen said, noting he was in the minority in his opinion, but that it was too important an issue to go along with the majority.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20150601/upper-merion-area-school-board-hires-new-superintendent-passes-budget


Peduto’s Budget Proposal Includes Tax Increase, Would End ‘Pittsburgh’s Financial Distress’

DSC01828Mayor Bill Peduto today presented a $505.9 million city budget proposal for 2015 that includes a real estate tax increase but ends what he characterized as two decades of budgeting shell games, putting Pittsburgh firmly on the path to financial solvency.

“Today is the beginning of the end of Pittsburgh’s financial distress,” Mr. Peduto said at a news conference where he was flanked by Sam Ashbaugh, the city’s new director of the Office of Management and Budget. “We’re overhauling our entire budget. We’re stripping it down and building it back up.”

Mr. Peduto said his staff worked with the city council, the city controller and the Pittsburgh’s financial overseers under the state Act 47 program for distressed municipalities to vet revenue forecasts.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/09/22/Pittsburgh-Mayor-Peduto-budget-proposal-includes-tax-increase-would-end-financial-distress/stories/201409220191

Talk Of Wilkes-Barre Area Tax Hike Shifts To Needs For The Future

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA  — While the Wilkes-Barre Area School District budget committee continued to discuss a possible 2.9 percent tax increase at a Tuesday noon meeting — talk that prompted stinging rebukes from resident Sam Troy — the tone of the conversation seemed to shift from needing the tax hike to cover a 2014-15 shortfall to needing it to cover future costs.

Business manager Leonard Pryzwara noted the proposed budget sets aside 0.15 mills for debt service, and suggested an annual increase along those lines to cover future repair or construction costs. A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value. The current tax rate is 15.22 mills. A 2.9 percent increase — the maximum allowed at Wilkes-Barre Area this year by state law — would raise the rate to 15.921 mills.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1472721/Talk-of-W-B-Area-tax-hike-shifts-to-needs-for-the-future


Pottstown School District Adopts Proposed $60M Budget That Raises Taxes 2.9 Percent

POTTSTOWN — With a 7-2 vote at its May 15 meeting, the Pottstown School Board adopted a $59.9 million proposed budget that would raise taxes by 2.9 percent if it is adopted unchanged as a final budget in June.

Board members Ron Williams and Thomas Hylton cast the only two votes against the proposed budget, which increases spending 5.6 percent and would increase the annual tax bill by $81.91 for the owner of a property assessed at $73,670 — the borough’s median assessment.

Board member Amy Francis said, “This is a very difficult decision for me because, like every other taxpayer, I am at the end of my rope, but I also feel we have a responsibility to get the job done that we started with the renovations at the elementary schools. We can’t do one without the other.”

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140521/pottstown-adopts-proposed-60m-budget-that-raises-taxes-29

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Pottstown Schools Propose 2.9% Tax Hike This Year, 0% Next Year

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — School taxes may not rise next year if the school board approves a budget that raises them 2.9 percent this year, Superintendent Jeff Sparagana said Thursday night.

That was when the proposed $56.4 million Pottstown Schools budget got its first public airing — although few members of the public were in attendance — before the school board’s finance committee.

“This is not the year to tie our hands,” Sparagana told the finance committee.

Pointing to the $1.5 million in additional debt payments that begin this year to pay for the elementary school renovations; the additional $1.1 in retirement/pension payments and the $625,000 the district needs to start setting aside annually for roof replacements, Sparagana said the administration can balance the budget “without cutting programs and hurting students” with the additional $856,000 a 2.9 percent tax hike generates.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140509/pottstown-schools-propose-29-tax-hike-this-year-0-next-year

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Pottstown School District’s Proposed Budget Cuts 11 Staff, Raises Taxes

The Pottstown School Board introduced the proposed budget for the 2014-15 school year at its Thursday night meeting, May 8, 2014.  For a brief synopsis of the meeting and more information, visit Brandt’s blog Digital Notebook at http://evan-brandt.blogspot.com/.  To see the Storify visit https://storify.com/PottstownNews/of-bushes-and-budgets?utm_source=embed&utm_medium=publisher&utm_campaign=embed-header

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Facing $4.9M Deficit, York City Schools Still Looking To Grow

Map of , United States Public School Districts

Map of , United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Required to adopt a balanced budget by June 30, York City School District officials are cobbling together a proposal with two major pieces of the financial puzzle missing.

First, it’s still unclear whether New Hope Academy Charter School will be forced to close — a scenario that could send an influx of students and money to the district.

And, the teacher’s union has not agreed to new collective-bargaining agreement with the district, which adopted a financial recovery plan that depends significantly on workforce savings achieved through wage and benefits reductions during the next five years.

Nonetheless, district administrators are proposing to move forward with plans to add and expand programs.

Read more:  http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_25520609/facing-4-9m-deficit-york-city-schools-still

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Scranton Wants To Declare Bankruptcy

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

SCRANTON, PA — When Detroit filed for bankruptcy, hundreds of residents took to the streets to protest what they saw as a drastic approach to fixing the city’s budget problems.

But in this hilly town of 76,000 in northeastern Pennsylvania, residents have a different view of Chapter 9: They want the city to declare bankruptcy. And soon.

“The silent majority would like to see bankruptcy,” said Bob “Ozzie” Quinn, president of the Scranton and Lackawanna County Taxpayers Association. “Basically, it’s down to a point where people cannot afford to pay the taxes and are moving out of town.”

Faced with a $20 million deficit, Scranton had to do some tricky maneuvering to balance its budget and avoid defaulting on loans. Most of this maneuvering has involved increasing taxes and fees paid by the people who still live in the town, which has seen its population drop by half since the 1930s.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140111/scranton-wants-to-declare-bankruptcy

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Western Pennsylvania District Provides Example Of Successful School Merger

Map of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United Sta...

Map of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MONACA, PA – In a dimly lit steakhouse some 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, two school superintendents – one current and one newly retired – crowd into a booth illuminated by neon signs.

The smell of barbecue permeates the air at PJ’s Bar-B-Q & Steak House, as Nick Perry and Dan Matsook grab menus and talk school mergers.

For Matsook, it’s a familiar setting for such a discussion.

In October 2005, Matsook, then superintendent of the Center Area School District, sat in another restaurant, the Ground Round in nearby Moon Township, where he and school officials from his district and the neighboring Monaca School District laid the foundation for what would be the first voluntary merger of two school districts in Pennsylvania.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20140113/NEWS/301139967/1052#.UtQx2vRDsxI

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Forks Township Supervisors Approve 13 Percent Tax Increase

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Property taxes will go up 13 percent next year in Forks Township.

Last week, the board of supervisors approved a budget that includes the tax increase and an additional $700,000 in expenditures.

The extra money will pay for new vehicles and equipment or repairs.

Finance Manager Jim Farley said vehicle prices continue to go up despite the economy. He estimated a new, fully loaded dump truck with a plow could cost $500,000 and a fire engine could cost as much as $2 million.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2013/12/forks_township_supervisors_app_4.html


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


Wilkes-Barre In Better Financial Shape Than Last Year

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — More than halfway through the fiscal year the city is in better financial shape compared to the same period in 2012, officials said Friday.

Revenues are up by more than $7 million, largely because of a 25-mill property tax increase and the payment of 2012 wage taxes that had been delayed by problems at CENTAX, the former collection company.  As a result, there are no plans to furlough workers to make up for a revenue shortfall.

“There is no manufactured financial crisis by a collection mishap by a third-party vendor,” said Drew McLaughlin, the city’s municipal affairs manager.  “Revenue projections are holding steady so far, so we are very, very cautiously optimistic in terms of our financial position this year.”

Still, he cautioned things could change should the weather bring on an unpredictable expense caused by flooding from a tropical storm or snow in the winter.  “We’re at the mercy of Mother Nature there and we proceed cautiously,” he said.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/759265/Wilkes-Barre-in-better-financial-shape-than-last-year


Conrad Weiser OKs Tentative Budget With 0.54-Mill Tax Hike

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Conrad Weiser School Board approved its tentative 2013-14 budget Wednesday, but board members are considering lowering the proposed tax increase before the final vote in June.

The board voted 6-3 to approve the $42.7 million tentative budget with a 0.54-mill property tax increase, the maximum allowed under the state’s Act 1 index.

Board members Margaret G. Rumbaugh, Tammy Starner Wert and William T. Carl Jr. voted no, saying they preferred a 0.42-mill increase that would balance the budget but leave the district with a smaller financial cushion.

The 0.54-mill increase will generate about $110,000 more revenue than is needed to balance the budget, Director of Business Robin L. Robertson said.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=477499


Daniel Boone Board Shuts School; Makes Little Budget Progress

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Daniel Boone School Board didn’t waste time in deciding Monday to shutter Amity Primary Center, but spent more than an hour discussing other budget-related moves with little progress.

Several residents expressed frustration about the slow-moving budget discussion, noting that the same cuts have been on the table since December.

“It just seems like we don’t make decisions,” resident Rich Martino said.  “We push it off meeting after meeting and now we’re up against a deadline and I don’t know if we’re going to make the right decision.”

The board will vote on a tentative $52.45 million budget next week.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=477022


Twin Valley Trims $1 Million, Approves Tentative Budget

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After weeks of closed-door discussions, the Twin Valley School Board approved a $53.35 million tentative budget Monday, closing a $1 million shortfall with a combination of staff cuts, tax hikes and even a new revenue stream for 2013-14.

The list of staff cuts, previously undisclosed, includes furloughing a business teacher; not replacing three teachers – one full-time and two part-time – who have submitted resignation letters; not renewing two temporary teachers; and reducing a full-time art teacher to part time.  Also eliminated are 14 assistant middle and high school coaching positions and four assistant high school club advisers.

“We certainly would have liked to have done it a different way,” Dr. Robert F. Pleis, superintendent, said after the meeting.  “We don’t want to lose personnel.  That’s not our goal.”

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=477019


Schuylkill Valley Eyes Higher Tax

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Schuylkill Valley School Board agreed at a committee meeting Monday to vote on a tentative $33.8 million budget for 2013-14 at its regular meeting next week.

The budget calls for no job cuts but would raise the property tax 0.52 mill next year.

“This budget supports all of our current staff,” Business Manager Wendy Boarder said. “We’re adding one contracted teaching position in the budget.”

As Boarder explained it, supporting current staff includes replacing any staff member retiring or taking leave.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=477017


Reading Considers Consultant’s Proposal For Budget

The city of Reading and its outside consultants have come up with a new tax plan using a complex and untested state law to pay for the 49 percent hike in pension contributions the state is requiring it to make in 2013.

Essentially, Act 205 says cities facing sudden dramatic pension-cost increases can levy a so-called distressed pension tax, either as a separate property tax or a separate earned income tax. But every nickel collected has to be used to pay off that obligation, not spent anywhere else.

At City Council’s Wednesday night budget session, the consultants recommended applying it to the earned-income tax – using the same rate for both residents and commuters – since the administration and council don’t like the 15 percent property tax hike that’s already in the budget.

Gordon Mann, a consultant for Public Financial Management who is leading the team, said the tax cap is based on a complex formula comparing pension contributions and city payroll for three years.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=424643