Phoenixville Borough

Wow . . . Phoenixville Borough Faced With 24.7% Tax Increase in Proposed Budget

As the municipalities around us struggle with their 2011 budgets, there is depressing news from Phoenixville Borough.  Residents of Phoenixville may be looking at a whopping 24.7% property tax increase according to the proposed borough’s 2011 budget.

The 2011 budget deficit is approximately $619K and the Borough Council is faced with a tax hike or spending cuts.  Property tax increases have varied over the years – 2010 there was no increase; 2009 saw a 5.8% increase and in 2008 taxpayers received a 14.8% increase.  Certainly, nothing like this proposed 24.7% increase!   Although there has been discussion of police department cuts in the borough, so far that is only a rumor. 

Although on the surface, it would appear that Phoenixville is a success story . . . there seems to be a new restaurant, coffee shop or boutique on every corner, apparently that is not an accurate picture.  According to the Borough Council, corporate layoffs, reduced earned income revenue, slipping real estate transactions have all contributed to the challenges faced in the current economic climate.  Tomorrow is the Borough’s Finance Committee meeting; here’s hoping for an alternative to the 24.7% tax increase.

Looking ahead to 2011, Phoenixville like many municipalities is struggling.  Supporting revitalization is critical for future economics . . . effectively planning and implementing local economic initiatives needs to be a requirement and . . . stimulating local economies . . . all challenges to the newly elected in Pennsylvania.  Phoenixville is included in Pennsylvania’s 157 jurisdiction – I hope that the residents can count on help from their newly elected representative.

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Today is the Last Day to Register (or to change your registration) for Pennsylvania’s May 18 Primary

Voter Registration Deadline Today

Today is the last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania’s May 18 Primary. It is also the last day to change your registration from one political party to another. To register will require you to go to Chester County Department of Voter Services by close of business today.

Chester County
Department of Voter Services
601 Westtown Rd., Suite 150
West Chester, Pa. 19380
610-344-6410
www.chesco.org

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State Rep. Paul Drucker hosts 2nd Annual Community Leaders Breakfast

Our State Rep. Paul Drucker hosted his 2nd Annual Community Leaders Breakfast this morning at the Radisson Hotel in King of Prussia. Last year’s honoree was former supervisor Bill DeHaven; this year Mary Foote, executive director of the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville was chosen.

Sitting among the volunteers this morning, I reflected on how these people are giving back to others and are making a real difference in their community. Many attending the breakfast were from Phoenixville who share and support the work of Mary Foote at the Colonial Theatre. Sharing is the keyword to describe the way in which volunteers approach their work. Volunteers share their skills and talents, even their money. But above all, they share themselves. They know that this attitude is the true measure of success in life and that it makes this community strong and healthy.

Thank you Paul for understanding the meaning of community service and for honoring the hard work of our community volunteers.

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Countdown to May 18 Primary . . . Can we escape negative campaigning?

Days are beginning to countdown to the Pennsylvania Primary on May 18 and then on to Election Day on November 2.  As the campaign season prepares to get in to full swing, I want to publically state my strong opposition to negative campaigning.  Recalling my own experience in last year’s campaign cycle, I know all too well the personal effect of negative campaigning.

On a local level, based on past performance the potential exists for negative campaigning in the Pennsylvania State House 157 race.  The Primary has Ken Buckwalter and Warren Kampf seeking the Republican nomination; and incumbent Paul Drucker as the endorsed Democrat candidate. I have had a conversation with two of the three candidates to express my concern that this campaign season not take us down the negative path.

I think that negative campaigning can backfire in local political elections.  Poll after poll has shown that voters severely dislike negative campaigning.  Ask almost anyone and they will agree: one of the most distasteful things about political campaigns is when a candidate decides to “go negative’ on an opponent.  Often times it seems that the definition of “negative campaigning” really depends on which candidate you’re supporting. Many consultants and campaign managers like to call negative campaigning “comparing” or “contrasting” candidates by showing the voters the clear differences between their choices. If your candidate starts “comparing” himself with his opponent, then you’re more likely to look at it as completely acceptable.  If, on the other hand, the opponent does the same with your candidate, then it becomes “negative campaigning.”

In our local election, where many of us may know the candidates personally, going strongly negative and personal in the campaign can end up costing you our respect, and ultimately our vote.  Sending out a negative mailer about a candidate who everyone knows and thinks is a fairly nice guy probably isn’t going to make us change our opinion of him.  It’s much more likely to get us angry at you, instead.  I look at this way: if a candidate is severely flawed, then odds are that other people know plenty about his shortcomings. If, on the other hand, the candidate is a generally well-liked person with a clean record, then trying to convince his neighbors otherwise with a negative campaign is a losing battle.  Let’s stick to the candidate’s actual voting record and history on issues.  An opponent may claim to support a tax cut, for example, but his voting record may show a number of previous votes in favor of tax hikes . . . that would be fair game in a campaign. But personal attacks on an opponent’s private life, name-calling and mudslinging are unnecessary and not OK, and will likely not be favorably rewarded on Community Matters.

If you’re a candidate in a local election who is thinking about “going negative” on your opponent at some point during the campaign, I hope that you will reconsider.  The stuff that really wins elections is called Hard Work . . . and if you’re really putting the necessary effort into running a great campaign, you won’t have time to waste on spreading rumors about your opponent, anyway.

Here is a preview of Ken Buckwalter’s campaign mailer for the State House 157, which is going out next week.  Ken is taking the ‘high road’ with his campaign strategy, here’s hoping that the other two will follow suit.

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Some Community Updates . . .

Some Community Matters updates . . .

1.  Local Job Fair:  State Representative Paul Drucker’s Job Fair yesterday in Phoenixville was an enormous success . . . over 400 job seekers attended!  Rep. Drucker reported that people were lined up outside the convention center and down the street  prior to opening of the event.  Over 40 companies participated in the Job Fair including the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Social Security Administration, Cosi, Chesterbrook Academy, Wegmans, Northwestern Mutual, TD Bank, to name a few.  Rep. Drucker told me that he knows of one employer who hired 5 people yesterday!  Sounds like it was a good day for employers and prospective employees.  Great job Paul!

2.  Fire Company Funding:  Supervisor Paul Olson called me yesterday to provide an update on the status of the ‘cardboard check’ to the fire companies — yes, he referred to it as a cardboard check.  In December at a Board of Supervisors meeting, the supervisors unveiled a cardboard check in the amount of $23,200 which was to make up the fire company deficit that was removed in the 2010 township budget.  Through supervisor fundraising efforts by Supervisors Lamina, Kampf and Olson, Olson explained that they had exceeded the dollar amount of the cardboard check.  The total collected of approximately $25,000 was turned over to Rip Tilden of the  Berwyn Fire Company for distribution to the fire companies.  No information was provided as to the actual source of the contributions.  However, one of the individual contributors told me that she received a thank-you from all 3 fire companies so presumably the money has been distributed. 

3.  TESD 2010-11 Budget:  Malvern resident Ray Clarke took the advice of Community Matters readers. Based on posts and comments, Ray has a letter to the TESD School Board with the following list of questions.  Here’s hoping that the School Board will consider these questions as they prepare for the important upcoming Finance meeting on April 19.  Thanks Ray.

  • Can the school district impose a PIT on the residents?
  • Does Act 511 permit the District imposing PIT?
  • Would imposing PIT require voter referendum?
  • Would the imposition of PIT reduce property taxes?
  • Is a voter referendum required for EIT?
  • If there was an EIT, how would the split of revenue work between Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships?
  • Does an EIT reduce the property tax bill?
  • Would both townships be required to have an EIT in place to receive the revenue? Or, would the townships receive their portion of the school district’s EIT revenue?
  • Would there be a difference to the teacher unions in regards to an EIT or PIT?
  • Does the rate have to be the same for both townships?
  • What are the options for splitting the revenues between townships and school district, and does the split have to be the same in each township?
  • What is the exact nature of the reciprocity arrangements with neighboring jurisdictions, particularly Philadelphia
  • What will be the estimated financial impact to townships and school district, under various likely scenarios of rate and split, on the following dimensions:
        a) Incremental taxes paid by township residents
        b) Taxes currently paid by township residents to other municipalities that will stay in T/E
        c) Taxes paid by non-residents
        d) The total of the above

I’m glad to provide updates to ongoing community issues; let me know if you have anything new to report.

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