Wednesday’s news items [last night’s meeting notes; digital decision in Lancaster draws comments and more] – 2/4/2020

Council “work session” meeting notes | While only fewer than a dozen citizens / visitors attended last night’s borough council meeting in person last night, over 700 viewed the meeting at that was live-streamed and is now archived at the borough’s facebook page. All the councillors were in attendance; six, in person; Councillor Pam Williams once again attended via telephone. By the end of the meeting, Williams was no longer connected to the “work session” conversation.

champagne tastes on a beer budget | Columbia’s acting borough manager had the unenviable burden of bringing a hard look at the reality of the borough’s financial condition. She said council has to make some serious decisions on what the needs are and what funding is available to responsibly fund the wants. Watch the video; listen to the message.

The Governor’s response | Following last night’s State of the Union Report, the Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer said this in her response to POTUS’s message, “Listen to what people say, but watch what they do.” 

Identifying priorities | Last night’s session had councillors outlining and identifying their priorities. Any budget for any body — a household, a business or a government entity — has to identify its revenue streams and set its expense items. A basic goal is to have a balanced budget; generally, expenses cannot exceed revenues. To do that prudently, all entities have to identify and elaborate on the reasons for the expenditures needed to provide the comforts and services needed to satisfy its constituents. Yesterday, Pennsylvania’s Governor released the 2020-21 state budget. All the Governor’s proposed budget information is here.

then - nowScreenshots from separate posts at  Lancaster Online’s facebook page.

last week, Columbia — today, Mount Joy | Lancaster Online‘s changed its story about the Columbia/Mount Joy makeover woman from last week to today.

Insanity! This is an ABOMINATION for Lancaster.” | Last night, Lancaster’s leaders whored out as Lancaster council advances plan for electronic billboard at Long’s Park.” More than a few commenters at the LNP – Always Lancaster facebook page challenge that call. [NOTE: Chris Courogen, LNP correspondent, is now covering Lancaster; he was covering Columbia’s council meetings.]

Residential conversion | At last night’s meeting, the topic of renters vs home ownership came up yet again. Some elected public servants cling to the theory that rental unit dwellers are problematic and that a town of home ownership is preferable. Last night someone proposed the borough may want to look into a program of “incentivizing” property owners to convert multi-unit rental properties to single-family homes. The city of Elgin, Illinois is one municipality we found that has a “residential conversion grant.”

“The Residential Conversion Grant (also commonly known as Multi-Family De-Conversion program) is designed to provide funding for converting non-conforming multiple unit residences back to their original use. This is an incentive grant program that is not only intended to compensate property owners for the work required remove the additional non-conforming residential unit, but also for the loss of rental income following the conversion.”

10X bigger, but | The City of Elgin’s population is more than 112,000 and can afford lots of projects and services for its citizens. Its budget is pretty revealing, however. It’s got line items for Debt Service and Capital Improvement Funds; Debt Service / Corporate Bond Fund; Equipment Replacement Fund and more to precisely categorize spending.



  1. In Response To “Residential Conversion…”

    Why is this so contentious? Because it’s deemed politically incorrect? Or, “Problematic” as the Boomer and Millennial Do-Gooder class like to call it?

    It seems as though Columbia has had three phases: The Gilded Age, The 1950s Romanticism Of Leave To Beaver and The De-Industrialized Age. Kinda like a lot of ‘Merica.

    When the De-Industrialized Age left the place ravaged, all these Big Ol’ Houses and business were chopped up or bought up by “slum lords.”

    Did council “leaders” of that era care? Probably not. Seems as though there was a head tax. Great! Stuff ’em in!

    (Oh, don’t worry about Codes! We don’t wanna chase away our money makers!)

    But, here’s the “problematic” part: What do Slum Lords attract? A transient population.

    Have you ever talked/worked to anyone in the trenches of social services, government service and education? Yes, I’m sure you have and you know this is a population that moves from town to town seeking menial labor, temporary lodging and yes…exploiting the welfare system.

    This transient population is what weighs on the Columbia school system.

    Guess what else Slum Lords attract?

    Black Market Dealers.

    And, guess what? Lancaster is a prime location on the drug trade routes between Washington DC to New England.

    How many decades worth of criminals arrested had a “Last Known Address” as Columbia?

    Years of this has given Columbia the nickname Scum-lumbia.

    Also, part of this “more home owners are needed” is that the theory postulates that people now have “Skin In The Game.” They renovate, maintain and raise a family to “put-down” roots.

    Did I paint in broad strokes? Yes. Is this a screed against all “The Protective Classes?” No. Poverty, pain and survival transcends culture/skin color/race.

    Is this a screed against renters? Heck no. I rented for MANY MANY years AND in places of varying socio-economic realms.

    The real issue is, is that DECADES worth of feeble minded “leadership” has brought Columbia to this juncture of Revitalization which will be painful for a lot of people.

    Blame the insular, tribal mindset of Council from 20, 30, 40 years ago.

    But, anyway, ROLL TIDE!

    (because, seems to fix everything here in Columbia)

  2. What a thought-provoking and lucent thesis.

    Thank you, Mr./Ms. JAO. So well stated.

    We hope site visitors read it.

  3. That’s the longest comment I’ve ever read on this site! Very interesting. Here’s a question, Mr./Ms. JAO, at the end, you typed “ROLL TIDE!” It would seem you were comparing Columbia to a town in Alabama. Trust me, you would not wish to live that state.

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