Friday, August 1, 2008

Councilman Senley's online petitions - Do you support or oppose the CDC contract renewal & the funding of new taxes for a total of $625,000?

Councilman Jeff Senley asked that I post his petitions regarding the CDC contract extension along with the CDC's request for a total funding of $625,000.

I have agreed to post this information on my blog.

Not without my comments.

I have had several telephone calls and personal conversations with residents who were unaware of the following information. If I am incorrect in any points I make, I invite anyone who has correct numbers or information to post to this thread. I am working from memory only.

The orignal CDC contract was for the administration of the Streetscape program. In compliance with the grant, the borough was responsible for supplying matching funds to the grant for the completion of the project.

The borough's match of $111,000 has been paid annually in September, I believe, from monies which were set aside for the Streetscape project. The project is uncompleted and was overbudget last year which required Council to take an additional unbudgeted $30,000 to 40,000 of tax monies from our reserves of our tax dollars to pay the bill.

Council normally schedules budget meetings beginning in October. The CDC is requesting that Council commit, well before budget meetings, to NEW funding of $125,000 annually for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 for a total of $625,000 of new tax dollars.

Where is this money supposed to come from?

3% increases are projected to impact the budget for the union and non-union employees. The police department payroll will also be increased.

The contract for gasoline, I believe, runs out in August. I further believe we were paying in the neighborhood of $2.60 per gallon. No one knows what the figure will be in the new contract.

Heating oil and electricity are constantly rising, and the borough has many buildings requiring both commodities.

Some local analysts suspect we may see another double-digit rise in our local taxes, and this would come after a 15% increase for 2007, and a 18% increase last year.

It is within the realm of possibility that the borough will need to find an additional $300,000 PLUS in order to balance the budget for 2009. If the CDC is funded with the addition of $125,000 in new tax dollars, we can project a tax increase which will stagger many.

In December will we suffer a Christmas "present" of a total of a 50% increase in Phoenixville taxes in 3 short years???

In my opinion, the CDC contract should be terminated or at the very least re-visited and drafted in such a manner that it is retired until the national economy shows signs of stability.

Phoenixville's Borough Council as well as the staff have many hard decisions to make this year in order to make the cuts needed to prevent an increase in taxes which many people will not be able to afford.

Read Jeff's petitions at his website, take the opportunity you have been given, and please vote.


Online Petitions

The previous 2 posts contain links to online petitions I have created for Phoenixville residents to express their support or opposition to the current discussion topic of CDC contract renewal. The petitions are formal mechanisms to express your opinion.

You will be asked to enter your name, e-mail address, ward, and to confirm that you are a Phoenixville Borough taxpayer. You can also enter a short line of comments. Like normal paper petitions, anonymous signatures are not permitted.

If the level of participation before August 12 indicates that this is a viable method of gathering public opinion, I will consider using it again in the future.


Anonymous said...

Holy cow! People are downtown laughing and smiling and buying stuff in the stores and eating and drinking enjoying the bling as Karen coined it.

Maybe they can set up a donation table for more bling instead of using my tax dollars. Maybe the council should set up a downtown district tax so they can pay for their own bling.

If you think people are upset now, just wait until we get the tax bills for next year.

Blogwalter said...


Even before budget talks, when the CDC funding is finalized by Council, the tax increase will start at 9.5%. That is the increase necessary to raise $125,000 each year.

Since the initial $333,333 or $111,111 per year was set aside 4-5 years ago, the taxpayer hasn't had and increase in their taxes until now.

That is why saying it is "only" a $14,000 increase over last year is not correct. We haven't been paying the taxes to raise $111,111 paid to the CDC each year because it was already in the general fund from years ago.

Today there is no real surplus to pull this money from today, unlike 5 years ago when we had close to 2 million dollars in surplus.

Anonymous said...


Did you say 2 million Dollar Surplus and 50 percent rise in taxes along with major increased one time revenue from new housing on the North Side and the Hospital??

What have you and your colleagues been spending all the money on, and how does that compare to other municipalities, and boroughs in Chester County?

Karen said...

Thank you, Ken, for that further clarification.

Yesterday, I spoke with a supporter for the extension who was under the impression that the money requested by the CDC was or will be from a "grant" from "somewhere".


There are NO GRANTS for the $125,000 request from the CDC!



You, me, and the next door neighbors are being asked to fund the CDC with OUR TAX DOLLARS.

I cannot state the facts any clearer.

Now, in the face of all the rising costs of everything we need and use, gas, home heating fuel, electricity, food, etc., do we really want to commit to a larger increase in the 2009 taxes by sending the CDC $125,000 annually for the next FIVE YEARS?

Another point to keep in mind is the fact that the Phoenixville School District tax increase is also as yet unknown for 2009.

Karen said...

I forgot to mention.

The woman I spoke with is no longer in support of giving her tax dollars to the CDC.

Anonymous said...

Where did the surplus go?
Certainly you can't blame the CDC for your tax mess. Did council really think three years would be enough to revitilize Phoenixville? LOLOLOL. Go back to what you were.

Anonymous said...

What was grant money was a total of something like $3 million dollars in total for the streetscapes from the Schuylkill to Nutt Road. It was proposed that we give 10% of that money to the CDC corporation for project management of the project implementation. Unless the CDC board returns that money, we technically have no money for project management when and if the streetscapes gets completed. Or - has the rest of the $3+ million dollars evaporated also. If we must spend the $3 million - if we have it have, can we get the CDC board to return the project management fees from the last grant returned to the borough taxpayers please. Where do the CDC board chairmen reside?

Karen said...

Anonymous 11:01, technically as well as historically speaking, the revitalization of the downtown was commenced with the PAEDCO organization who supported Barbara Cohen's initiative in restoring the Foundry Building in the early 1990's.

Many, many hours of work between PAEDCO and the Council resulted in the Foundry receiving grant monies for the project.

The many years of groundwork by PAEDCO and Council (largely forgotten!), including the work on the Streetscape program of which I was a member, is the genesis and primary reason for the revitalization you see in Phoenixville's downtown.

A close examination of fact will show the CDC was contracted 3 years ago by Borough Council to "administrate" the Streetscape program which was initiated and developed through PAEDCO.

Further planning by Council and the subsequent contract with CDC finally bought the Streetscapes program to fruition.

This revitalization did not occur in 3 years.

And, Streetscapes is still not completed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the clarification Karen
Does PAEDCO stil exist and what is their current status/function. can they continue what was started by the CDC?

Anonymous said...

So all this talk about the CDC increase in our tax base and yet the major offender (school taxes) goes untouched. Why is that? This school district is average at best and yet our taxes are sky high and on the increase. At least I see the downtown progressing and improving so the money seems well spent. However, our schools have remained stagnate and have not progressed and yet the school taxes continue to go up. I don't see the value in that.

Anonymous said...

I will not be taking part in the "petition" because of the nature of the petition. It is not as much a petition as it is a pole of the people that follow your blogs. This is an inaccurate representation of the town opinion as a whole and more of representation of your viewers. The fact of the matter is that this is not accurate but unfortunately will be referred to by Mr Senley in his argument against the CDC. This is "spin" at its best - nothing more.


Karen said...

You're welcome, Anonymous 4:02.

I am not aware of PAEDCO's current status.

Perhaps someone who reads this blog knows and will post the info.

If they are inactive, or have disbanded, their participation in any project would be a moot issue.

Karen said...

Anonymous 4:08, the school district is a whole 'nother subject!

I suspect some of the whispered about plans under consideration will be a topic of threads on this blog.

Karen said...

Anonymous 4:39, it is your decision to participate in the poll or not.

You are correct in that the petition will only reach those who read the personal blogs or the newspaper blog.

However, the petitions will be representative of a segment of Phoenixville's residents, which, initself, is better than not having any public feed-back on the situation at all.

andthetruthshallsetyoufree said...

OK. So you were able to name 8, yes 8, merchants that live in the "Borough limits'. Last time I checked there are 15,000 people that live in 5,500 +/- homes in this community. I do not count Mary Foote, as the Colonial Theater is a Non-Profit Organization, which has still not shown, The Great Santini, one of my all time favorites.
Council needs to look out for the masses not a select few individuals, (hint, hint 3D Group) that the CDC seems to cater too.
Barry and the CDC have brought in bars and eateries that provide low paying jobs, that is the Truth!
Barry and the CDC are just a plain luxury that the Borough simply just cannot afford, that is the Truth!
When it becomes a budget item and Council will need to make very difficult decisions whether they want bike patrol officers or St. Barry and the CDC, that is the Truth.
We have decaying and much neglected infrastructure in our streets, parks and our water/sewer system, that is the Truth!
According to reports, we 'need' a new Borough Hall. A luxury that again, we cannot afford, that is the Truth!
Look this list can go on and on, the fact is that Council as a whole has not done their job. Three years ago they cut a minimal increase to make a political football out of the process; that bit them squarely in the *ss. The last 3 years have been double digit increases in taxes, raised fees and reduction in services, that is the TRUTH.
There was a hiring of a political hack for Borough Manager; that even though he worked for SEI, had not a clue of finances, which reflects in the Boroughs current state, that is the Truth!
This council has been living above not only their means, but ours. It has also been reported on another website, that this year alone, this council has over spent almost $500,000! Just notice, it is still hot outside, it's only FREAKING the beginning of August! There is still a full 5 months to go, that is the Truth!
When you and I run low on funding during the course of the paycheck or month, we cut back on our spending, so please explain to me why this Democratically controlled Council has failed to do so? That is the Truth!
For the other Anon poster, I like my steak very rare, the point that the other poster made, while good was not the knock out blow you would have it to be. Mr. Cassidy would have you believe that he is a tough guy, I saw much braver men then him crap their pants in war, do not put him on a pedal stool that he does not deserve.

Anonymous said...

Manager Don Edwards leaves during the budget ???????


What a shell game!!!!!!
1st budget I truly understand, well MR M sure didn't or maybe he did??????????

Anonymous said...

So basically Phoenixville has no plan in place to keep the downtown moving forward.

The current plan seems to be to make Barry Cassidy look like the bad guy then generate enough public support to get rid of him and in the end Council will look like heroes for saving Phoenixville from the giant tax increase.
I am so sick of political games. Didn't we see enough of this with the Obama/Clinton circus?
As for the polls- you can't actually use an on-line blog poll as an argument pro or con on council floor, can you? LOLOL.

Anonymous said...

Here's a plan. It's based on maybe a fad, maybe a legitimate observation that "artsy" places start because the rents are cheap and lots of small places have some financial breathing room. More "standard" businesses move in because the artsy crowd, the young, the gays have made these places now a lot nicer and more attractive. These places tend not to have developers cheering on their shill and giving pep talks while jacking up rents to such high levels that small business have a much tougher go than your classic arts-and-entertainment stages would need to get going.

The government does not set rent prices for businesses. The strategy that small town, small minded council could follow is to stay out of the way and turn a deaf ear to landowners and developers next time they come before them for a pep talk or lecture on the milk of human kindness by some guy who wears a collar of convenience. Get rid of the shill and the cheerleaders and give us safe streets, reliable drinking water and a sewer system where the pipes don't break and we don't get fined by the state.

Karen said...

Anonymous 10:48, the CDC was hired for their professional services to administrate the Streetscape program. I am personally not aware of any other long range programs although that does not mean one does not already exist.

I am also not aware of any "plan" to make Barry "look like a bad guy".

My own contention is that Council must first adhere to the process of creating a budget DURING the budget meetings which do not begin in August, and for Council to be mindful of the fact that the ONLY reason there actually is a Phoenixville is because of those souls who have lived, are living, and will continue to live here and via their taxes support the administering of the borough. The residents cannot be expected to continue to bear the brunt of double-digit taxes year after year.

It is foolhardy to expect a bottomless well of tax dollars, and Council should realize that the amount of disposable income for many residents is limited.

In times of economic crisis most people are focused on maintaining a certain level of lifestyle which would be impacted negatively by double-digit tax increases every year.

This discussion, Anonymous, on this issue is not a political game. For many higher taxes or wasteful spending by any level of government may mean the difference between keeping their homes or not.

Regarding Jeff Senley's polls, Councilmembers should be actively soliciting for opinions from their constituency over voltile issues such as this one. The taxpayers should definitely have input as to where their money will be spent.

If the Councilmembers adopted the town hall telephone meetings such as some Congressional representatives have, I believe the public comments will help to shape their votes on Council floor. And, that is a GOOD thing.

So, my long answer to a short question is yes to the poll. Council should avail themselves of any tool they deem necessary to gauge public reaction.

Anonymous said...

anon - Aug. 2, 2008 10:48:00 PM EDT
"So basically Phoenixville has no plan in place to keep the downtown moving forward.

The current plan seems to be to make Barry Cassidy look like the bad guy then generate enough public support to get rid of him and in the end Council will look like heroes for saving Phoenixville from the giant tax increase."

No one has said in any blog that Barry Cassidy is "the bad guy."

What has been said is the budget process has not been addressed by Council to adequately determine if there is money in the budget, without raising taxes, to support the CDC demand.

You just don't get it. Are you Councilman Handwerk who owns no property and therefore pays no property tax?

Anonymous said...

In lieu of a cross-post, I sent this to Blogwalter, snipped from a previous post I made.

"In reference to Solofloyd's comment concerning Councilpersons, when do the current members terms expire? The WGAS attitude towards constituents' fiscal concerns needs to be rectified. It's never too early to start vetting qualified individuals to replace some sitting members.
June 12, 2008 9:51 AM
Jeff Senley said...

The seats of Councilmen Wagner, Kirkner, Gill and Ciruelos are up for re-election in 2010.

Councilmen Buckwalter, Handwerk, Speck and me are up for re-election in 2012.
June 12, 2008 10:40 PM"

Seems like a long time to tread water.

Anonymous said...

People wake up!!!!!!!!!
Barry is not bad, little off center, but who that gets things done is not?
Think back, Council cut this tax, moved this tax amount around and used monies that were sitting there for rainy days didn't raise taxes and in some cases lowered them a little as everything around went up. Did you not see this coming??
Chester county did the same thing for years WE didn't raise taxes, then 38% increase in one year.
Aren't elections great, do the correct thing not the political thing for a change!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The phrase 'the bad guy' and the emotion attached to that idea is a fog. There is are ways to evaluate performance. How has the Phoenixville Main Streets program's performance done on measures of 'economic development' nationally. See And have you ever been to Dubois (not far from Penn State). Just how well did that Main Streets program do in economic measures?
How has the performance been on the administration of the streetscapes program?

Anonymous said...

Do Petitions matter to the borough? There was a petition presented of shoppers, business owners and neighbors of HUD
project at Starr and Bridge Sts and the council stared with blank eyes on TV and ignored the appeal to SHUT THIS BAD IDEA DOWN FOR our town has it's share of HUD housing. This project is not safe on the Starr Street corner of Bridge. We must preserve this historical property. Why not put an internet petition out for shoppers, residents and business owners, to let everyone be heard on this topic!

Jeff Senley said...

Anonymous Aug 3 12:27 PM:

I paid attention.

Anonymous said...

To Anon Aug 3 12:27

Polls, like statistics, can be used any way you want them to.

Take for example the current pro/con polls. The bloggers claim a major victory here because the polls are running 8 to 1 against the CDC. 8 to 1!!! It sounds like an obvious fact that Phoenixville doesn't want the CDC contract. Never mind the real facts... 23 nays and 3 yays don't mean squat when you have over 15000 (that is fifteen THOUSAND) residents living here.
This is the same type of game that claimed a majority vote for HUD at Holy Ghost.

If you want an accurate picture put it on the ballot. Blogs polls are not legal documents.


Anonymous said...

But why would we have a legitimate poll when we can take a bunch of our "punch drinkers" and take our own poll and use those numbers to our liking? That just doesn't sound like the type of poll I would want to take part in. I mean, what's in it for me??? I need those numbers to reflect MY IDEAS because, well..., I have no ideas.

By the way, can I just vote for George W again on this blog because I don't want to wait until election time and I don't want to vote in a real voting booth. Why should I when I can just cast my vote here. I check "George W" for life. We love you Georgey Peorgey!

Anonymous said...


Glad you paid attention !!

Wish the others would !!!

The 400+ signers to SAY NOT TO HUD