Thursday, March 9, 2017

Putting the (Medical) Pot in Pottstown

I would be lying to pretend that the big story from last night's borough council meeting was NOT a proposal to establish a medical marijuana growing facility in the 700 block of Queen Street.

It was.

And chances are, you already read all about it my story in The Mercury here, so I won't be repetitive here in the blog. (I mostly wanted to use that headline...).

But there were a few other things of interest that happened, so let's talk about those.

First, Council President Dan Weand finally got his numbers about new jobs in the borough.

Some of you will recall that his goal for 2016 was 100 new "living wage jobs" in the borough. And it looks like at least part of that goal was accomplished.

Using tax figures from Portnoff Associates -- figures that were evidently not easy to get -- Weand reported that in 2015, the borough had 10,440 jobs and 2,777 of them were held by borough residents.

In 2016, Pottstown had 11,716 jobs, of which, 2,846 of were held by borough residents.

That means the year-over-year increase was 1,276 additional jobs, 69 of them held by borough residents. Now how many of them were "living wage jobs?" Well that, apparently is a mystery for the ages.

But given that Weand is running for reelection this year, you won't be surprised to know he took a victory lap anyway. "I think that's pretty impressive. I had not realized we had grown so much," he said.

Also of interest is Council Vice President Sheryl Miller's crusade to lower the 10 percent late fee for late water and sewer bills -- something which she has announced she has personal experience resenting.

Arguing that the fee is over the top -- most utilities charge a 1 or 2 percent late fee, she said -- Miller wants it lowered and some people on council, Dennis Arms and Joe Kirkland, seem inclined to agree. More on that next month, apparently.

During his report, Borough Manager Mark Flanders announced that police and codes officers will team up through September, visiting borough residents systematically, finding out what their problems are, identifying some, then returning for follow up.

That means if your house has code violations, and they get spotted during these walks, you will get a grace period of about two weeks to take care of them before a citation gets issued.

Flanders said this will be an ongoing enterprise.

And finally, as the meeting wound down, Arms, recalling past glories of The Digital Notebook, asked a question the notebook asked in 2015 -- Why Do We Need Wards?

That post, written when both Ross Belovich and Arms were running for the Democratic nomination for the Fourth Ward seat, noted that if everyone ran at large, both could have been candidates for council.

Arms said with petitions circulating and local elections coming up, its a good time to talk about it. "I know I get calls from people in other wards," he said.

Anyway, on to the Tweets:

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