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Borough council meeting agenda, March 9, 2015

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Lists on March 9, 2015 at 9:33 pm

The March Borough Council meeting was brought to order at 7:05 pm on Monday evening in the council chambers at Columbia’s Borough Hall; it was adjourned at 8:22 pm. The complete complement of councillors, the mayor, the solicitor, interim borough manager and financial officer was in attendance. Here is the agenda:

meeting agenda

bgc

Columbia Clubhouse, 248 W. Locust St., Columbia, PA 17512, phone: 717-684-3637

 

What might be in Columbia’s school funding future: Windfall funding

In Education, Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Lists, Opinions on March 5, 2015 at 10:55 pm

schools in new budget

According to this new Website – ‘Schools That Teach’ – The above is a glimpse of what Columbia’s funding might look like with the new budget calculations.

“Providing all children with a quality public education is the cornerstone of Governor Tom Wolf’s “Schools That Teach” strategy to prepare students for good jobs and rebuild the middle class.

“Governor Wolf’s 2015-2016 proposed budget restores cuts to basic education and increases the state’s share of funding for public education to 50% for the first time in more than 40 years with a commitment to invest $2 billion in public education over the next four years. The governor’s budget also includes a historic $3.8 billion in property tax relief and cuts property taxes by more than 50 percent for the average homeowner.”

 

Why does “it always have to hit the fan” before there’s a response

In Government, Opportunities, Uncategorized on March 5, 2015 at 9:09 am

Maybe because of the “behind closed doors” mentality and the total lack of transparency at so many levels of government – local – state – federal.

Reading this New York Times article about Ferguson, “A city where policing, discrimination and raising revenue went hand in hand,” has got to produce revulsion, disgust and no surprises when government is operating without everyone being able to watch. When there are unadvertised meetings! When there are back-room meetings? When business is done on private email accounts!

Governments exist for many reasons … to serve its people.

Not to oppress them.

Not to discriminate.

Not to serve the interests of itself or just a few.

We found a few recent articles so very interesting, because the articles are about a country that has transparency: “What makes this tiny country interesting in terms of governance is not just that the people can elect their parliament online or get tax overpayments back within two days of filing their returns.”

“Envying Estonia’s digital government”Bloomberg View

“Lessons from the world’s most tech-savvy government” - The Atlantic

 

In September and October of 2013, we posted these notes

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Lists, Opinions, Uncategorized on March 1, 2015 at 7:55 am

It’s all about politics; it’s all about money … for some.

In October, 2013, we posted this at Columbia news, views & reviews:

In a discussion about Columbia’s very high school property taxes, the mayor restated his intention to have representatives with tea party affiliations come to his next Community Update meeting on October 23 at 7:00 pm at the Consolidated Fire Department at 265 South Tenth Street. While recent revision to property tax to support school districts legislation at the state has been stalled, the mayor is going to invite David Baldinger and/or Keith Wilkes to attend that meeting. Wilkes headed the  of the 9-12 Project of Central PA – read more about David Baldinger here.

Notes from the September 2013 borough Council Meeting –

HIGH PROPERTY TAXES – The mayor said he’d spoken with members of the school board after a recent meeting to tell them that high school taxes were impeding “economic development” in Columbia. He then went on to say that he’s been in contact with folks from the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations. He went on to extol the virtues of the organization’s premises: the abolishment of property taxes and the replacement of a broken school system.

“The PTCC and our statewide nonpartisan grassroots umbrella group, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations (PCTA), are dedicated, through legislative reform, to eliminating school property taxes for all Pennsylvanians and to the equitable funding of all Pennsylvania schools from a broad-based, statewide funding source. Such a source would ultimately equalize disparities between wealthy and poorer school districts, ensuring a quality education for all Pennsylvania schoolchildren. The PTCC is a supporter of House Bill 76 and Senate Bill 76, The Property Tax Independence Act, a property tax elimination proposal that will abolish all school property taxes and provide equitable funding for all Pennsylvania schools.”

He told everyone the Website – www.ptcc.us – and encouraged the audience to look at it; he stated he’s going to try to talk with one of the leaders, David Baldinger.

What he did not say, though, is equally of interest.

At the Website, it states: the group “is an alliance of eighty-one nonpartisan grassroots Pennsylvania taxpayer advocacy groups that span the entire Commonwealth and represent tens of thousands of taxpayers. The PCTA is dedicated to the support of House Bill 76 and Senate Bill 76, the Property Tax Independence Act, legislation that will abolish school property taxes in Pennsylvania and will equitably replace a broken education finance system.“

Columbia news, views & reviews  notes that “googling” the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations Website actually redirects to a Web page at the the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition. Take a look at the PCTA member groups; overwhelmingly they are “tea party” organizations.

Who is David Baldinger? Again, “googling” the name we found many references like this one: “David Baldinger, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations (PCTA) and Coordinator of the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition (PTCC) will be speaking about HB 1776, the Property Tax Independence Act, on Thursday, March 8, at the meeting of the Philadelphia Tea Party Patriots of Central Montco.

In the Youtube video below, “David Baldinger explains the key points on HB/SB 76 for the elimination of school property taxes and the benefits to Pennsylvanians.”

Our take:

  • Looking for ways to fix the American education system - great idea.
  • Coming up with a more equitable system to support the educational system – great idea.
  • Investigating some ideas – regionalization and consolidation were thrown into the conversation by the mayor – to make school systems more effective and accountable – great idea. [NOTE: The mayor even said, gulp, county school system. We think that is an idea worthy of discussion. As well as county-wide public safety resources!]
  • Alignment with an an organization that’s mostly populated by “tea partiers” – not such a great idea.

Find selected David Baldinger posts here:

This is a bullshit political scam and nothing more, a fraud designed to keep Wolf’s campaign contributors fat and happy and to kill our effort.

And your ‘childish…tantrum’ bullshit is insulting. I have been fighting this battle for more than ten years and I know how Harrisburg works. When you’ve spent that much time in this fight and have that much experience with the self-serving politicians you can tell me all about how this is a wonderful opportunity. I’m sorry, but your naiveté is showing and your blind acquiescence damages the cause.

F&M professor and political observer, Terry Madonna, says, “ … getting rid of the property tax is very popular — it polls as the most-hated tax. Obviously, if it should pass, the Realtors will gain immensely in selling homes,” in this Philadelphia City Paper article, “Property tax revolt could sharply reduce school spending.”

The author at Watch Dog Wire says, “Mr. Baldinger had whipped a frenzy among the ranks that left no room for dissention.  When I challenged my own affiliated group to debate internally at a meeting, and even offered to lead the discussion, I was ignored.”

It’s difficult for citizens to take anything at face value; we revert to what we stated in 2013:

It’s a bit disconcerting, however, to not find some of these organizations claiming non-profit status listed at the Pennsylvania Department of State Corporation Registration Website nor the IRS tax exempt organizations Website.

Our take:

  • Looking for ways to fix the American education system - great idea.
  • Coming up with a more equitable system to support the educational system – great idea.
  • Investigating some ideas – regionalization and consolidation were thrown into the conversation by the mayor – to make school systems more effective and accountable – great idea. [NOTE: The mayor even said, gulp, county school system. We think that is an idea worthy of discussion. As well as county-wide public safety resources!]
  • Alignment with an an organization that’s mostly populated by “tea partiers” – not such a great idea.

PennDOT Encourages Motorists to Call 1-800-FIX-ROAD to Report Potholes | Wide Fluctuations in Temperatures is Generating Potholes

In Everyday Living, Government, Opportunities on February 23, 2015 at 12:48 pm

PennDOT encourages motorists to report potholes and other roadway maintenance concerns on state roads by calling PennDOT’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-FIX-ROAD.

The wide fluctuations in temperatures above and below the freezing point recently, along with water from the melting snow, have created prime conditions for the development of potholes on south central Pennsylvania roadways.

Potholes develop when water that seeps into and below the road through small cracks in the pavement freezes and expands. As the water repeatedly freezes and thaws, a cavity below the road is formed and larger cracks develop, which destroy the strength of the pavement. When vehicles travel over these areas, the pavement surface breaks and a pothole is formed.

Callers to the 1-800-Fix-Road hotline are asked to be as specific as possible when providing pothole locations or other maintenance concerns. Helpful information includes the state route and segment number (found on small white signs along the road), the municipality, and county. Callers should also provide a description of any familiar landmarks that will help PennDOT locate the problem area.

In addition to potholes, callers can also use the hotline number to report other state roadway maintenance concern such as roadway washouts, missing highway signs, high shoulder drop-offs, and drainage issues.

Once notified, PennDOT will work to address the pothole and roadway concerns as quickly as possible as weather and conditions permit. During this time of the year, however — when the hot asphalt plants are closed — pothole repairs are temporary in nature since only “cold patch” material is available to fill the potholes. In the spring, when the asphalt production plants are back in operation, more permanent repairs can be made with hot asphalt.

The 1-800-Fix-Road (1-800-349-7623) number should not be used to report traffic accidents, disabled vehicles, or other emergencies. Motorists should continue to call 9-1-1 to report those types of incidents.

SOURCE: News release

candidate announces for magisterial district judge

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, People on February 13, 2015 at 5:38 am

bixlerMiles Bixler

Perhaps you saw the notice in this week’s Merchandiser.

Miles Bixler is a candidate for the office of magisterial district judge for District 01-1-03. This office is one of 19 in Lancaster County.

district map

Robert A. Herman, Jr. is retiring from the elected position.

“The annual salary of a magisterial district judge shall be $88,290.”  - PA Code

According to the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania website, the compensation includes a comprehensive benefits package consisting of:  “retirement plans, health and life insurance, holiday and paid leave, and various supplemental programs.”

Magisterial District Court is the first level of judicial authority in Pennsylvania and is the court where most people experience the judicial system for the first time. Magisterial district judges handle all traffic cases, minor criminal cases, and civil cases involving amounts up to $12,000. District justices also set bail and conduct preliminary hearings in misdemeanor and felony criminal cases to determine if the cases should be dismissed or transferred to the Court of Common Pleas for further proceedings.

“There are 19 magisterial district judges located in offices throughout Lancaster County. They are elected to six-year terms and are employees of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

 

articles of interest about police and fire and football

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Opinions, Opportunities on February 12, 2015 at 6:56 am

There was an article in yesterday’s LNP – Always Lancaster about Mount Joy’s decision to search for a police chief. According to the article, the borough looked into a regionalization possibility, but couldn’t find a willing partner who wanted to consolidate.

On the topic of consolidation … at Monday’s council meeting, councillor Mary Barninger explained that the April 1, 2015 date that had been imposed back in the middle of 2014 might or might not be an absolute deadline.

The “line in the sand” for fire department consolidation has been drawn. Representatives from two of the borough’s three fire departments petitioned the councillors to approve a “end date” for the borough fostered consolidation of fire companies. Jay Barninger asked for an end date that said by April 1, 2015, the three separate fire fighting entities must come together. He also asked that council consider adjusting the code to allow the existing borough fire chief to maintain the position beyond the end of 2014 until the April 1 date to maintain a course and lessen confusion. Additionally, he asked the council to reconsider the motion passed at last month’s “council of the whole” meeting about the purchase and allocation of the new radios. The council, after discussion, voted to reconsider that decision and reduced the radio purchase authorization which would, according to Barninger, be sufficient to provide radios for borough’s fire officers so that public safety would not be compromised. – SOURCE: Columbia news, views & reviews, July 15, 2014

“Ready to win: what police, companies and the rest of us can learn from the Patriots” – The Conversation

patriotsWas this guy just lucky? Or just prepared? Reuters

 

council votes to sell sewer operation

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia on February 9, 2015 at 10:11 pm

At tonight’s council meeting, the council, in a 5-2 vote, voted to sell Columbia’s sewer operation to the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority. Councillors casting “nay” votes were Michael Beury and Stephanie Weisser.

The price: $8.6 million plus other considerations.

Here’s the agenda:

agenda - front

agenda - back

some places, the result is job loss; in another, it isn’t

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia on February 6, 2015 at 11:11 am

Law enforcement officer terminated for DUI, crash

Schauren and Sahd inducted into Our Lady of the Angels 2015 Annual Hall of Fame

In Education, Everyday Living, Government, History and Heritage, In Columbia, Lists, People on February 2, 2015 at 12:35 pm

On January 24, 2015, Family and Friends of St. Peter and Holy Trinity were welcomed by Corinne Kern, a member of the Development Committee at Our Lady of the Angels 2015 Annual Hall of Fame. Father Kenneth Lawrence began the evening with a prayer.

The Hall of Fame was established by the Development Committee for Our Lady of the Angels in 1999 in order to acknowledge the ongoing support of graduates from Holy Trinity and Saint Peter Schools; support of their church, their school, and their community.

These men and women have taken the values & skills they learned in Catholic school and lived them out in the “real world”. They have been recognized for making Stewardship an active part of their lives, and we thank them for their continuing contributions to their parishes and our school.

Our 2015 nominees, Mr. Joseph Schauren and Mr. Michael Sahd are being recognized for following in that tradition of Stewardship. A presentation was given for each nominee.

sahd Michael Sahd (left) and Joseph Schauren are the new hall of Fame inductees.

Michael Sahd is the son of Charles and Elizabeth Sahd. He and his siblings, Mary and Tom, grew up in Columbia. Mike learned how to work hard at an early age, and that he had to work hard to succeed. He attended Mass every morning before school with his mother. When he was in school, he remembers that every teacher was a nun.

Mike graduated from St. Peter School in 1963 and from Lancaster Catholic High School in 1967.  He attended York Thompson Institute for one year and realized it wasn’t for him! He came back to Columbia and joined in the family business. Now retired, he was the former part-owner of Frank Sahd Salvage Center here in Columbia.

Around 1987, St. Peter’s Catholic School was in search of a principal. Father John Smith asked for Mike’s support and he gladly worked on the search committee. Mike told Father Smith that we needed a firm, strict, kind, compassionate and dedicated person – someone who is like a loving “Drill Sargent”. Mike is honored to have helped hire our past principal, Mrs. Theresa Burg. Her guidance, faith, dedication and perseverance have made our school flourish these last 28 years.

Mike has been active in his parish for many years. He has served as the Parish Board Vice Chairman, a member of the Holy Name Society, Knights of Columbus, School Board Vice President, PTO President, and President of the Father Russell Fund. He’s the kind of guy who reaches out and gives back where he can. Mike is passionate about his parish and school. He volunteered all those years to make the school a better place for our children. He is so proud to have served all those years because he now has grandchildren who can attend Catholic school here in Columbia.

Joe Schauren is the son of Joseph A. and Read the rest of this entry »

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