Thursday, September 7, 2017

Police Awards and Some Taxing News in Pottstown

Photo by Evan Brandt
Nine Pottstown Police officers, along with chief Rick Drumheller were recognized with Meritorious Service Awards Wednesday night for their efforts in successfully dealing with an armed subject with mental issues in a stand-off in Limerick in January. From left are Officer Christopher Zahorchak, Corporal Steven Morrisey, Officer Jeffrey Portock, Detective Heather Long, Detective Mark Wickersham, Sergeant Mark Boyce, Officer Jacob Ritter, Corporal James O'Neill and Detective Brooke Fisher. 

As is so often the case, the big ticket news item from last night's borough council meeting appeared nowhere on the agenda other than a listing as "manager's report."

What Borough Manager Mark Flanders had to report was pretty sobering -- that as things stand, the various borough funds are nearly $2.4 million in the red.

The reasons are no mystery: The loss of $26 million in total assessed property value over three years; increased costs, particularly for health care and two years of using fund reserves to balance the budget and avoid a tax increase.

And that loss in assessed property value does not even include the loss when (or if) Pottstown Memorial Medical Center is taken off the tax rolls because of being purchased by the non-profit Reading Health Systems.

With more assessment challenges lined up, county officials are warning Pottstown to prepare for a total assessment of $780 million, down from $806 million in 2016, Flanders said.

To fill that projected gap would require a real estate tax hike of 23 percent.

As Council President Dan Weand noted, the number always starts out high at the beginning of the budget process, and gets whittle down through the process.

Flanders said that the whittling has gotten to the point where "council will have to make some tough decisions over the next few months" and decide which services will get cut.

Council Vice President Sheryl Miller urged council against cutting emergency services and suggested an independent study might be needed to look at salaries in the borough, some of which she said are "outrageous."

We'll have more coverage of this issue in subsequent The Mercury.

Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

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