August 5, 2010
By Michael Pakenham A governance grab is afoot in Pennsylvania. If approved by the state legislature, it would constitute the most volatile graft accelerant since the plain brown envelope. It would balloon the payrolls of the state's 67 counties. It would obliterate more than 2,500 local governments. And it would generate massive new state and county agencies. If you have never been terrified by gobbledygook, you haven't read the title of the state Senate's version of the proposal: "An Act amending Title 53 (Municipalities Generally)
October 10, 2008 |
One of the biggest unreported stories in America concerns how the economic meltdown is affecting local governments. It's a huge story because it has implications for every American family. While the media camp their satellite trucks in Washington and New York, the real story is in the heartland. It's not about some ambiguous $700 billion bailout that many Americans don't understand. It's about regular taxpayers who are going to see significant changes in their local governments - changes unlike any they've seen before.
January 10, 2012 |
U.S. companies have been slowly hiring more workers. But home prices are still slipping and tax-assessment values are down, so local governments and school districts that rely on property taxes are still under pressure. "We may still be in the early innings of the deterioration in municipal finances," Ryan Connors , utilities analyst at Janney Capital Markets in Philadelphia, warned in a report to clients last week. "Political resistance" is keeping towns from raising tax rates as valuations and tax collections fall, Connors wrote.
December 15, 1986 |
It paid for street lights in Upper Darby Township, kept the police force in Delran Township, N.J., on the payroll, and provided fire hydrants in Rockledge Borough in Montgomery County. It provided treatment for mental patients in Camden County and paid hospital employees' salaries in Burlington County. In Montgomery County it supported programs ranging from ambulance service to prison work-release. Now it's gone. Revenue-sharing, born in 1972 under the Nixon administration, died in October, a victim of efforts to reduce the federal budget deficit.
July 19, 2012 |
Five years after the New Jersey Legislature cracked down on abuse of state pension benefits by local government lawyers and other professionals, little has changed, according to a scathing report released by the state comptroller Tuesday. In a review of just 58 of the state's more than 1,000 municipalities and school districts, investigators found that all but one had failed to properly pull those disqualified from receiving benefits from their pension rolls. In Magnolia, officials relied on the borough lawyer to determine his own pension eligibility until one official threatened to quit, according to the report.
May 4, 2015 |
John Paff retreats to a small room in his chilly basement each morning and fires up his computer. Methodically, he lets fly a barrage of e-mails to pry loose confidential documents that local governments and New Jersey agencies closely guard. Disciplinary reports of rogue cops. Dashboard footage of traffic stops. Ethics violations filed against lawyers. Health benefits that part-time officials quietly give themselves. As chair of the Open Government Advocacy Project for the New Jersey Libertarian Party, Paff submits about 700 requests for documents from local governments across the state each year.
December 22, 1995 |
Despite intense opposition from unions representing public safety workers, the state Senate yesterday approved a Whitman administration proposal to slow the growth of salaries for police and firefighters. State Sen. Peter Inverso (R., Mercer), the sponsor of the bill, said that because salaries for police and firefighters are one of the biggest costs for local governments, the measure would go a long way toward controlling the growth of local property taxes. "Ultimately, the real beneficiaries of (the bill)
January 1, 1987 |
Gov. Kean signed legislation yesterday extending through 1989 the controversial law that places a spending maximum on the budgets of New Jersey counties and municipalities. The 10-year-old law, designed to hold down local property tax increases, prohibits local governments, including school boards, from exceeding their previous year's budgets by a certain percentage. The law had been due to expire at 12:01 a.m. today. There are a few exceptions to the rule, such as appropriations for police vehicles, library and hazardous-waste expenses and 50 percent of solid-waste costs.
March 1, 2005 |
It's one of those problems easy to define but almost impossible to fix. Simply stated, Pennsylvania has too much local government - almost 2,600 local governments and a few thousand other semi-local government units. Only Illinois and Minnesota have more. What may be worse is that 60 percent of the local governments here have populations under 2,500. It's not that local officials don't work hard, care about their communities, or keep government close to the people. They do. And it's not about a willingness to serve.
November 14, 2011
Pennsylvania lawmakers' work on natural-gas legislation has stirred up local governments on the front lines of the state's Marcellus Shale boom who are afraid of losing municipal powers over how the industry operates. The state must have broad powers to regulate drilling, but the local governments make some valid points. Both the state House and Senate are considering measures that would set some new drilling rules and charge an impact fee, most of which would go to local governments.