York Mayor Kim Bracey: 5 Game Changers That Could Save York (Column)

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

As the 2015 budget season approaches, it is my duty to talk straight about our city’s fiscal challenges and pension legacy costs that have been growing since before the turn of this century. While laying out the dire conditions, leadership requires us to hold out meaningful hope by advocating for bold measures. Long term fiscal game-changers can stabilize our property taxes while enabling us to continue providing quality public services and infrastructure that our people deserve and demand.

At times, I feel like a night watchman of earlier centuries who witnesses a spreading fire and vigorously shouts and rings the bell to alert citizens of the imminent crisis. During the last two city administrations, we’ve been warning of the growing fiscal crisis for 13 years, and we’ve done as much as we can internally to make our budget process transparent, to seek sound recommendations from outside experts, to cut costs, and to be fiscally responsible. The list is extensive.

• In 2003, under Mayor Brenner, our city initiated its first open budget hearings, an annual tradition that continues to this year.

• In 2006, our city was one of the very first in the state to enter the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Early Intervention Program, which provided an analysis of York’s finances by outside experts. Their analysis concluded that York’s financial controls and management were strong but that systemic constraints beyond its control were leading to out-of-control costs. Recommendations included implementing a parking tax, which was done.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_26165619/kim-bracey-5-game-changers-that-could-save

Advertisements

New Reading Authority Racing To Meet Deadline For State CRIZ Application

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

At its second meeting in as many days, the newly formed City of Reading Revitalization and Improvement Zone Authority continued racing a Nov. 30 deadline to apply for a state CRIZ designation.

“If we win, I hope the new zone will create jobs to help stimulate our economy and the community’s growth,” said Mike Toledo, director of the Daniel Torres Hispanic Center and authority treasurer.

The CRIZ program was created by recent state legislation to provide economic development and job creation within a city. Only two Pennsylvania third-class cities will receive that zone designation in 2013. Other candidates are Allentown, Bethlehem, Altoona, Wilkes-Barre, Chester, Erie, Lancaster and York.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519889

Pennsylvania Third-Class Cities’ Problems, Solutions May Be Addressed

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All 53 of Pennsylvania’s third-class cities share common bonds, and one state senator believes legislators who represent those cities should band together to help address their common challenges.

“Sprawl, changing demographics, public safety concerns and archaic tax structure have drained the vitality of our once-vibrant downtowns,” state Sen. John N. Wozniak, D-Johnstown, wrote in a letter to his colleagues.  “Since the causes are not unique, we can’t stand by and ask local government officials to stem a tide that is overwhelming their capacity and authority to innovate.”

Wozniak noted in the letter to colleagues from both parties in the Senate and House that while the state’s historic downtowns are unique, the fiscal problems they face are not.  With that in mind, Wozniak is proposing the creation of a bipartisan “Third-Class City Caucus.”

“We can no longer afford to consider the plight of our cities as a concern that is separate from the overall welfare of our Commonwealth,” he said.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/stories/Third-class-cities-problems-solutions-may-be-addressed,256451

Constables Fight To Keep Share Of Parking Ticket Fines

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Berks County state constables make hundreds of thousands of dollars each year serving warrants for unpaid citations issued by the Reading Parking Authority.

Last year, the authority helped draft a state bill that would allow it to handle its own delinquent parking tickets and collect an estimated $500,000 lost to what city officials call inefficiencies in the city’s constable and district court system. The measure, House Bill 1803, cleared the state House in June and was referred to the Senate.

Last month, fearing for their livelihoods, the constables launched a lobbying effort to kill the bill.

Led by Thomas Impink, elected state constable for Wernersville and president of the Pennsylvania State Constables Association, the constables pressured state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Delaware County Republican, to send the bill to committee, stalling its progress.

Read more:http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=408108