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Good and not so good news about Dauphin Co.'s 2016 budget

 

Property taxes held for record 11th year but state funding shortfalls could force tax increase in 2017, commissioners warns

The good news? Dauphin Co. Commissioners passed a $243 million budget for 2016 that holds the line on taxes for an 11th year straight. 

The not-so-good news? Commissioners warned potential cuts in state funding could jeopardize that record next year.

 “The state currently owes Dauphin Co. almost $30 million in human services funding’” said commission Chairman Jeff Haste. “This is forcing us to seek a $20 million tax anticipation note to keep cash flow going until we start getting local tax revenue in mid-February.

 “But we’ll have a larger problem if some of the significant cuts to human services funding that are being discussed makes it into the final state budget,. If we see a $6 million cut in Children and Youth funding, that equals a half-mill of taxes.’’

 Haste, who serves as the 2015 County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania’s (CCAP) board chairman, said the organization is committed to working with lawmakers to ensure human services funding isn’t held hostage in future budget impasses.

 “In Dauphin County, we’re fortunate that our careful budgeting allowed us to cover human services funding thus far without borrowing,’’ Haste said. “But other counties have been forced to cut back on services and borrow. Luzerne County had its bond rating downgraded due in large part to the deficit created by the state withholding $20 million in funding.’’

Commissioner Mike Pries stressed if the county is forced to raise taxes, it won’t be a decision the board makes lightly.

 “This board weighs the potential impact to the taxpayer in every decision we make,” Pries said. “We’ve managed to keep the lid on property taxes for 11 years, but it’s a record we can continue only if the state doesn’t slash funding for vital services.’’ 

Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III echoed his fellow commissioner’s concerns, noting the state is causing “significant uncertainty’’ about the county’s budget next year. 

“State lawmakers are considering pushing back $172 million counties are owed in children and youth funding into the next fiscal year to help balance the budget,’’ Hartwick said. “Counties are seeing record numbers of child abuse reports in the wake of new child protection laws. If the state doesn’t adequately fund these services, it’s local taxpayers that are forced to make up the difference.’’

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 16:29

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TO-DO: Middletown train station

demofortrain8 19 15WEBPress And Journal File Photo -- The A.C. Green warehouse on West Main Street is demolished to make way for the new Amtrak train station that will be built there.

Construction of the new Amtrak train station on West Main Street is expected to start in early 2016, PennDOT officials have told the borough.

The $32 million project includes building a pedestrian bridge from the private Penn State Harrisburg student housing over West Main Street so students can cross safely to the new train station.

Emaus Street is also to be extended to West Main Street as part of the train station project. The Emaus Street extension would be completed toward the end of the overall project.

Next: 
Pennsylvania Turnpike Bridge Over Vine Street

Click to return to TO-DO LIST Main Page

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 August 2015 17:36

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Get Your Omega-3s!

 


By now, you probably know that you “should” be getting enough Omega-3s in your diet, but do you know why?

The Omega-3 buzz got really strong in the last few years, and people have listened. In fact, according to WebMD, they are one of the most popular supplements in the U.S., but it seems that many of you aren’t sure why you are taking them. Was it something about blood pressure? Memory? Overall health?

Omega-3s are an essential fatty acid that your body needs to maintain health. The list of benefits associated with these fatty acids is long — very long, and the 3 following benefits should be enough to remind you that you are taking them for very good reason:

1. They lower inflammation 

The list could potentially stop right here. It turns out that the vast majority of the diseases that people have really boil down to inflammation. Heart disease? Inflammation. Diabetes? Inflammation. Autoimmune Disease? Inflammation. Migraines? Inflammation. Even premature aging, arthritis, cancer, and weight gain have been linked to this type of invisible and chronic inflammation. This is the very type of inflammation that Omega-3s can greatly reduce. Armed with even this limited bit of information, the question really seems to be “why wouldn’t you take Omega-3s?”

2. They help your heart

Yes, helping to lower levels of plaque in your arteries and lowering your triglyceride level is probably also really about reducing inflammation, but heart health is enough of a concern for the general population to warrant its own mention. There is evidence dating back as far as 1989 that even moderate increases of Omega-3 consumption, such as eating fish twice/week, regulates irregular heart rhythms that could lead to heart attack. “Similar, though even more profound, effects were suggested by a Harvard study showing that men who had higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids suffered an 80% lower likelihood of sudden cardiac death compared with men who had low omega-3 blood levels. If you are concerned about heart health, increase your Omega-3 intake.

3. They help your brain

Even in the brain, most issues come down to inflammation, yet again, this is an area worth pointing out more specific benefits. Research has shown that an increase in Omega-3 fatty acid intake can help decrease depression, bi-polar episodes, and there is even preliminary research that has shown a possible benefit to those suffering from schizophrenia. Beyond that, there is also evidence to suggest that a deficiency of Omega-3s can be a factor in age-related cognitive decline, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s. 

It turns out it is a good thing you have been taking those fish oils. Supplementation is a fine way to get them if you must (and make sure they are of very high quality or you risk high mercury consumption). You live in Oregon, however, and you are blessed with a bounty of delicious West Coast foods that are rich in Omega-3s: salmon, halibut, tuna, oysters, walnuts, flaxseeds, kale, spinach, and basil. I leave you with this Omega-3-rich (and tasty) recipe for Roasted Squash with Mint and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 July 2015 08:18

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HIGHSPIRE STRIKES BACK: Coalition refutes Middletown's concerns for taking Highspire students

 

The Highspire group behind the proposed transfer of 229 borough students from the Steelton-Highspire School District to the Middletown Area School District rebuked arguments against the transfer by both districts in a response it filed with the state Department of Education.

Quite simply, the Highspire Education Coalition, as the group is called, focused on the educational merits of a secession by Highspire to Middletown Area, claiming that it would provide Highspire children with a better education.

It refutes Middletown’s claims that the transfer would cause overcrowding in Middletown’s schools or a financial burden to the district, and asserts that Middletown’s fears that Highspire students are behind academically proves their point about the move’s educational merits.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 13:53

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Who wants Highspire?

Should the borough's 225 students leave Steelton-Highspire and attend Middletown Area? Both school districts say no.

The influx of 225 Highspire students who might be transferred to Middletown Area School District under a proposal by Highspire to leave Steelton-Highspire School District would strain Middletown’s resources and result in a great deal of costs to the district, according to documents filed by the Middletown district with the state Department of Education.

If students from Highspire attended Middletown schools, the district would have to hire 22 people at a cost of $1.6 million, the district said in its response to the state to Highspire’s secession request.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 14:06

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