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NEWS
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)
NEWS
October 10, 2008 | By Jon Hammer
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.
BUSINESS
January 10, 2012 | By Joseph N. DiStefano, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
December 15, 1986 | By Bridgett M. Davis, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
July 19, 2012 | By James Osborne, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
May 4, 2015 | By Jan Hefler, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
December 22, 1995 | By Chris Mondics, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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)
NEWS
January 1, 1987 | By Thomas Turcol, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
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.
NEWS
March 1, 2005 | By G. Terry Madonna
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.
NEWS
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.
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NEWS
May 4, 2015 | By Jan Hefler, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
January 16, 2015
DO YOU believe that an ex-husband, who has threatened violence against his former wife, should be able to have a gun? Do you think a seriously mentally ill person, who is a danger to himself and others, should be able to walk into a gun shop and leave with a loaded pistol? Do you believe the city has no business banning people with guns from entering government offices? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you are either nuts or an officer of the National Rifle Association.
NEWS
March 9, 2014 | By Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
Federal auditors have found that the Christie administration complied with state and federal standards in issuing a no-bid contract to a Florida firm tasked with cleaning up debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In the interest of speed, New Jersey awarded a six-month contract to AshBritt Inc. two days after Sandy made landfall to clean up the hundreds of thousands of tons of debris at the Shore. Democrats held hearings on the subject last year, attacking Gov. Christie for hiring a politically connected firm that they suggested was overcharging for its work.
NEWS
June 28, 2013
IT LOOKS as if Pennsylvanians have figured out Gov. Corbett's shell game. His "no new taxes" approach at the state level has led to a combination of deep cuts in the budgets of local school districts, plus a round of local tax increases to lessen the impact. The situation is true not just in Philadelphia, but in districts across the state. Voters in Pennsylvania are not happy with the situation. A statewide poll commissioned by Public Citizens for Children and Youth and the Pennsylvania Center for Budget and Policy shows that voters are aware of the cuts.
NEWS
June 27, 2013 | By Theodore Schleifer, Inquirer Staff Writer
Former President Bill Clinton called Tuesday for state governments to use the recent economic crisis as a teachable moment and consider overhauling their budgeting processes. Clinton gave the keynote address at a symposium on federalism at the National Constitution Center on Tuesday afternoon. Drawing on his 12-year tenure as governor of Arkansas, Clinton argued that budget shortfalls in capitals across the country highlight the need to question the fiscal relationship among the federal, state, and local governments.
BUSINESS
November 22, 2012 | By Joseph N. DiStefano, Inquirer Staff Writer
"It was not a pretty picture," says David Unkovic . The Main Line lawyer was talking about last week's state Senate hearing on the way municipal finance sausage is made in Pennsylvania, where local government and the borrowing that finances it - at taxpayers' expense - seem to be the most lucrative industry in too many shrinking towns and counties. Unkovic should know. He was Gov. Corbett's first choice to reorganize the woeful finances of the City of Harrisburg, where an audit and an initial state Senate hearing have belatedly exposed a borrowing binge under former Democratic Mayor Steven Reed . The mayor had the support of county officials to fund dead-end projects like a Wild West museum and an outdated trash incinerator.
NEWS
October 24, 2012
THANKFULLY, state senators left Harrisburg to campaign without repeating the House's mistake of passing House Bill 2224, which would allow local-level officials to sell parks by majority vote. The measure deserves to die with the end of the legislative session and should not be reintroduced. The House passed this so-called "cash for parks" bill, 197-0. Given its likely negative ramifications, just what could those 197 House members possibly have been thinking? HB 2224 would short-circuit the existing process for government land sales, which requires approval by county-level Orphan's Courts.
NEWS
September 12, 2012
By Michael Krancer Gov. Corbett promised to make Pennsylvania government better and more efficient, and both the Department of Environmental Protection and the public we serve saw room for improvement in our environmental permitting. We have to start by insisting on high-quality permit applications from businesses, nonprofits, and local governments. This is an important premise of the governor's recent executive order to revise the DEP permitting process and implement a timely "Permit Decision Guarantee.
NEWS
August 8, 2012
A recent Daily News editorial misses the mark when it comes to the facts about responsible natural-gas development. Despite claims advanced by the Daily News and other natural-gas detractors, Act 13 provides much-needed uniformity across the Ccucing municipalities, while also generating a new revenue stream and further enhancing environmental regulations.   Prior to Act 13, a patchwork of local zoning ordinances were unnecessarily impeding the safe, responsible and tightly regulated development of clean-burning, job-creating natural gas. Thankfully, though, this bipartisan law brought forth common-sense solutions aimed at ensuring that local governments have the important input they deserve and need while also making certain that outright bans and unworkable requirements cannot be established.
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