Scranton’s Parking-Garage Rates Won’t Decrease; Chamber Seeks Parking Input

As Scranton leaders are considering increasing hours, days and rates of downtown parking meters, some business owners want to see the city’s parking-garage rates reduced.

However, the court-appointed receiver in charge of the garages and their rates, Mike Washo, said he has no plans to lower garage rates, because a reduction would drain revenue from the authority and further burden city taxpayers to fund any shortfall that may arise from reduced rates.

“We don’t believe that any reduction in parking garage rates at this time will generate additional customers to justify the reduction in rates,” Mr. Washo said. “At the end of the day, we’ll end up with less revenue.”

In recent weeks, a plan by Scranton’s mayor and city council to hire a private firm, Standard Parking, to manage the city’s on-street parking meters has raised numerous questions and concerns among downtown businesses, residents and council members.  Citing Standard Parking’s estimates, council members think the city can net an additional $1.8 million a year by switching parking-meter management from the inactive Scranton Parking Authority to Standard Parking.  Under this plan, which was tabled Feb. 7 by council, meter hours would extend from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.  Ten-hour meters also would increase from $1 an hour to $1.50 an hour.

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Clipper Magazine Lays Off 40

Clipper Magazine laid off 40 of the 600 employees at its Mountville headquarters Thursday, a company spokesperson said.

“Our business model has changed a little bit, and our efficiency has increased. So we eliminated positions we no longer need,” the spokesperson said.

The affected positions were in art production and sales support. New technology was one factor in the need for fewer people, the spokesperson said. The second and more significant factor was a change in how some markets are being served.

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Evidently Stupid Is As Stupid Does In Pottstown

Despite the enormous amount of time and effort put forth by the Task Force and the cross-section of people who were involved in the process; the Pottstown Hyltonville School District Board of Education has voted to maintain five old elementary school buildings in light of the fact that:  a. Hyltonville cannot afford them and b. in the long run taxes will increase more by doing nothing.

Great job!  Not!

Many thanks to the Task Force for their hard work and many thanks to the four forward-thinking school board directors (Huss, Hartman, Pargeon, Weand) who voted NO to this giant step backward.  Watch how many homes go up for sale now!

Please keep in mind the five school board directors (Harris, Hylton, Wausnock, White, Wilson) who voted for this stick your head in the sand “plan” so when your taxes spiral even further out of control you’ll remember who to blame!  In case you forget, I’ll remind you when the times comes.

Two gigantic Roy’s Rants thumbs down and a cyber raspberry.

Pottstown Pennsylvania – The Land That Time Forgot

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

Evidently we live in a time warp in Pottstown.  Forward momentum and progress are alien concepts here.  Instead we prefer to stick our heads in the sand, cling to the past (and our favorite elementary school) and refuse to look at the grim reality that lies ahead.

Pottstown School District and Pottstown Borough cannot afford to continue to operate in “Leave It To Beaver” mode any longer.  There are serious financial challenges that lie ahead and they need to be addressed in creative and thoughtful ways.  Instead, we have people like Responsible Tom who are trying to push Pottstown back into the 1950’s.

In case nobody has paid attention, the world has changed drastically from the days of Laverne, Shirley and the Fonz (whoa).  People have different expectations these days.   Parents want modern schools with state of the art technology for their children’s education – or at least the middle class, home owning families we are “supposedly” trying to attract to stabilize our tax base do.

Fixing up five old buildings will leave us with five temporarily fixed up old buildings.  Down the road, this problem will have to be painfully addressed again.

The Task Force spent a long time pouring over information.  A variety of people, from all facets of Pottstown life, were included on the Task Force to make sure there would be good representation from all segments of the community.  Now the Task Force has reached their decision and we want to totally invalidate the time and effort they put into this project because some people do not like the outcome.

Progress and change are not easy.  It is painful for many people.  However, for this community to survive and prosper, change must happen.  We can NOT please everyone nor should we try to.  However, in this land that time forgot, where a tiny fraction of the public votes, attends school board or borough council meetings, we continue to delay the inevitable reality that irresponsible spending will only continue to compound our already tenuous financial position.

We need to run the borough and the school district like businesses and stop spending money we do not have before the financial bottom falls out of everything.  If you can’t afford something at home, you don’t buy it.  The same should hold true with spending taxpayer’s money.  We have champagne taste and a beer pocketbook here in Hyltonville.  It’s about time we snap into reality.  Somebody needs to bite the bullet and “let go” of something so that the entire community can move forward.  Until that time comes, Pottstown will be “the land that time forgot”

I leave you with a story.

The Child and the Filberts

A child (taxpayer) put their hand into a pitcher full of filberts (elementary schools). They grasped as many as they could hold (5), but when they tried to pull out their hand, they were prevented from doing so by the neck of the pitcher (bank account). Unwilling to lose their filberts (elementary schools), and yet unable to withdraw their hand, the child burst into tears and bitterly lamented their disappointment. A bystander said to the child, “Be satisfied with half the quantity (elementary schools), and you will readily draw out your hand.”

Lehigh County Trims “Fat” From 2011 Budget

Seal of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania

Image via Wikipedia

It is never too early to start thinking about next year’s budget.  Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham made an announcement yesterday that 50 positions will be eliminated from the county payroll in 2011.  The good news is 41 of these positions are currently vacant which leaves 9 people to be furloughed next year.  A tax increase is still possible at this time, however they working on keeping that from becoming a reality.

Lehigh County’s current employment levels are below 1990.  If you are keeping track of demographics, the county population has grown since then but they are doing more with less.  With the reductions that are planned for 2011, the total number of county employees with be 2.122 or 3.5% less than 1990.  The population of Lehigh County in 1990 was 291,000.  The current 2009 estimate put the population at 343,000.  A sizeable increase with less staff. 

They are working smarter, with less staff, up in the Lehigh Valley.

Harley-Davidson Whittles Away At Its Workforce

York based Harley-Davidson USA announced that it will eliminate another 200 full-time, permanent, union workers next week.  Workers were informed Friday or yesterday that their jobs were being eliminated.

Now this is the interesting part.  Casual workers have begun appearing at the York site to fill in for planned or unplanned absent workers.  HOWEVER, this has everything  nothing to do with staff reductions 😉 (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain).   Harley-Davidson is slashing their York based work force from 1,950 to between 700 – 800 full-time, union production workers.  200-300 casual employees are needed to augment the nearly 60% reduction in staff.  Casual workers are part-time workers with limited or no benefits, in many cases.

In the coming months, Harley-Davidson plans to cut non-union and salaried workers as well.

So who said the recession is over????

Another Neighbor To The North Slashes Teaching Positions

The Easton Area School District Board of Education has voted 5-3 to slash 72 teaching positions for the 2010-2011 school year.  27 high school teachers, 9.5 middle school teachers, 18 elementary teachers and all the computer technology coordinators will get pink slips. 

According to the board, negotiations with the teachers union failed to provide the necessary cuts to bridge the budget deficit.  Teachers agreed to cuts that would have saved $5 million dollars but the district still would have needed to move money from their reserves, even with the concessions.

The $131.5 million dollar 2010-2011 budget will include a 2.35% property tax increase.

The Easton Area School District has an enrollment of approximately 9,000 students, 9 schools and more than 530 teachers.

Harrisburg City School District Approves Budget With Massive Layoffs

The Harrisburg City School District board of control has approved a tentative $136,000,000.00 budget which slashes 137 jobs to fill a $22,000,000.00 shortfall in the budget!  95 teachers, more than 40 support positions, 66 non-certified emergency teachers, 2 assistant superintendents, 1 principal and 10 central office positions.  I think they forgot the partridge in a pear tree.  The staff cuts only make up 1/2 of the $22,000,000.00 shortfall.

Staff cuts are expected to come from the most recently hired according to Rich Askey, President of the Harrisburg Education Association.

The Harrisburg School District has 8000 students and 1200 faculty and staff.  There are 15 schools in the district.  Harrisburg High School has a very high drop out rate (21%).  Harrisburg City School District is consistently ranked at the bottom of Pennsylvania’s 498 school districts.  In 2009 the district was ranked 496th!  The district is in Corrective Action II, 7th year.

Things could be much worse!

Bethlehem Area School District Proposed Budget To Slash Teaching Positions And Raise Taxes

Our neighbor to the north is having a great deal of difficulty balancing their school district budget too!

Bethlehem Area School District, which has 15,000+ students is proposing a $207 million dollar budget which slashes 6 administrators, 35 teaching positions and raises taxes 6.1%.  This comes one short year after the district got off the state’s academically troubled list!

Last year the district slashed 45 positions and raised taxes 5.1%.  Debt accounts for 30% of their budget!  In November the district’s credit rating was downgraded.

Things are tough all over folks!

Tom Hylton’s Latest Plan

Where to begin….. yesterday we were treated to yet another paid propaganda fest in the Mercury from Mr. Hylton defending his plan to chop away at the school district staff. 

Frankly, I find these ads annoying.  It’s overkill.  What other school board member is putting paid ads in the Mercury to garner support for their ideas?  Hello!  None!

Before we go whacking away at the staff, we better be darn sure any decisions we make are not going to jeopardize our children’s education and safety.  There are state and federal guidelines regarding required staffing for things like Special Education.  As we discovered in the past, what Mr. Hylton thinks he knows isn’t always correct.  Case in point, the recent Sunshine Law debacle he created.

Again, why exactly are why relying on Tom Hylton’s say so?  We have an administrative staff that seems to be constantly ignored when it comes to making decisions about PSD.  These are trained professionals whose job it is to be well versed in curriculum, staffing and other educational requirements.  It would appear Mr. Hylton seems to routinely circumvent these people.

This situation is out of control.  Mr. Hylton seems to be constantly over-stepping his bounds.  Something needs to drastically change here!