Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Councilmembers Ciruelos, Gill, Speck, and Wagner approve CDC contract extension and raise

In one of this year's most controversial votes, Councilmembers Ciruelos, Gill, Speck, and Wagner voted to approve the motion to extend the CDC contract by five years and granted the organization's request of a raise to $125,000 annually.

Councilmembers Buckwalter, Handwerk, and Kirkner voted against the expenditure.

Councilman Senley and Mayor Scoda were absent.

In a seperate move, Councilman Buckwalter proposed an request for proposals for professional services (such as the CDC provides) which failed.

In all my years as a Councilmember, before and since, I have never seen a borough vendor or contractor approach Phoenixville's Borough Council with the unusual and unreasonable request for advanced approval and funding outside the normal borough fiscal cycle.

Adding to my incredulity now, is the fact that the majority of Borough Council APPROVED such a request prior to the beginning of the budget process! Surely aware the budget is already impacted negatively with a publically projected 9.5% increase in taxes, Council has reached, in my opinion, the height of fiscal irresponsibility. This is the same attitude of the majority which denied Phoenixville residents a guaranteed fixed price 5 year trash removal contract!

What are they thinking??

By this action, and by the looming double-digit increase in Phoenixville taxes, Council has effectively helped to undermine the stability of many households in our community because not everyone has the ability to continue to pay higher taxes year after year.

I've posted several threads regarding the horrendous state of our economy, the high cost of home heating fuel, auto fuel, electricity, and the rising costs of nearly every single item consumers purchase.

Council, don't you get it?

We simply cannot afford "bling" when many among us cannot afford the necessities in life!

Today I received word that one of the largest nearby employers, Siemans, is laying off an unknown number of employees in their Malvern facility.

Out of 9 employees in one particular department, 4 will be laid off. Almost half the department. Seniority must not be an advantage. One woman, I'm told, has 33 years with the company, another 20 years, and the third 11 years. How many other Phoenixville residents will be faced with the same situtation as this recession deepens?

This article speaks to the fact that the economic situation is worsening and it is worldwide.


Siemens (SI): More than layoffs, a strong sign of recession
Posted Jul 9th 2008 11:32AM by Douglas McIntyre
Filed under: Bad news, Economic data, Recession

The headlines were simple enough. Siemens (NYSE: SI), one of the world's largest conglomerates, was laying off almost 17,000 people. Big companies make layoffs all the time. Big deal.

But Siemens really is different. It operates in almost every country in the world. It has large businesses in infrastructure, transportation, electronics, medical devices, and industrial materials. It is, in essence, a snapshot of the global economic system.

The fact that a company with Siemens' resources would have to dump so many poor souls is probably an indication that the recession, which may have been limited to the US and Europe, is starting to grow. Management at the conglomerate wants to hold profit margins for the second half and into 2009. They have clearly determined that revenue will not be driving those results.

Siemens thinks the global economy is in for a rough time. Actions speak loader than words.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 247wallst.com.


The taxpayers are and will be tightening their belts, Council should have done the same.

A unanimous "nay" would have put more of our tax dollars to work where they are needed.

Justify the vote, Council.

This just isn't right.


Anonymous said...

the raise amounts to about $1.00 per phoenixville resident per year. i think it is worth it to keep the momentum going. what were they thinking? they have vision. thank you council!

Anonymous said...

I believe the actual amount works out to a little bit more than that per person but I agree that its a bargain for what the town has gained since the inception of the CDC. Problem is for all of the folks that don't agree with council and the CDC is the results are hard to argue. All you have to do is look at the downtown since the CDC gained full acceptance and the results are nothing short of staggering. I know this will draw some critical comments but I see those folks as the same people that would boo anything positive. They can't help themselves. Enjoy the town and live a little!

Jeff Senley said...

The actual amount is quite a bit more than estimated here. Councilman Buckwalter has done the math on www.watchingphoenixville.com.

Do not be mislead by claims that this is only a $14,000 expenditure. General fund monies were not used for the prior 3-year contract, and they are fully funding the new 5-year contract.

I'll do some better analysis on this when my bronchitis clears.

Anonymous said...

As a retired citizen and taxpayer of Phoenixville's taxes this "small" increase in taxes could be the one that broke the camel's back.

After 40 years of toil, and savings - I'm seeing most of my retirement funds (stocks, cds, and 401k) going to hell.

Cost of living going up - income going down.

No help from company I retired from for health insurance. Their retirement payment is less than $1,000/month.

Bush still sending Millions to Iraq which has lots of money. Why aren't they paying us for reconstruction, etc.?

I can't even sell my house for what it's worth!

Karen said...

Thanks, Jeff, for your input.

In each discussion I've had with residents related to the worsening economic situation along with the "new" expenditure of $125,000 annually from our general fund, I hear basically the same thing.

"With those ____ down there what else do you expect to happen in Phoenixville?"

"Why isn't Council waiting until the budget discussions?"

And, so on. Many derrogatory comments I cannot publish regarding this situation and other Council actions.

I believe the majority in Council is no longer focused on the needs of the residents of our community.

Fiscally irresponsible decisions will be proven and come back to haunt us at budget time, and the budget will then be balanced on the backs of Phoenixville taxpayers.


All pleas for prudence fall on deaf ears.

Karen said...

Anonymous 7:52, thank you for posting your thoughts.

Your's is not the first story I've heard along the same lines.

There was a time long ago in Phoenixville when the arguments on Council were between members who were so passionately dedicated to providing the best representation of their constituents in the various wards that they actually COMPETED against each other to bring the best ideas to the Council chambers.

No more.

Used to be that the needs of the residents and holding down tax increases while supplying additional were the focus of Council.

No more.

I feel horrible for you, Anonymous. Just as I feel terrible for all the others who have explained their circumstances to me.

I tried.

Karen said...

Meant to write "supplying additional services" in the above post.

Anonymous said...

Karen, Would you please explain what the CDC does and who is in the group, and why they are considered irreplaceable? Are they just responsible for finding businesses to occupy the empty storefronts? Also, has anyone actually done a cost/benefit analysis of the whole downtown revitalization project? Do those businesses contribute to the tax base? When property values increase it means higher taxes, right, so only if you sell does it make sense. A benefit to the sellers and the realtors but not to the long-time residents. Lots of questions, thanks for answering.

Anonymous said...

You folks argue about CDC and you don't even know who is on the board? You're kidding? But you continue to complain and point out all the doom and gloom.

Anonymous said...

No disrespect Karen but you also don't know what the CDC does. Maybe its time for a field trip for you and your lemmings.

Anonymous said...

You fail to realize in your title heading that ALL members of council approved the CDC contract. You see, conveniently Jeff was sick, and who knows where the mayor was? So you tell me, this must have really been an important issue for everyone. Or maybe secretly they agreed with what others were saying but due to partisan politics stated otherwise. The great thing is "ACTIONS speak louder than WORDS".

Karen said...

Anonymous 9:47, sorry for the delay in responding.

I don't have much time to answer you completely right now, but I do have the names of the CDC board members for you.

Kurt Kunsch
John Coloruso
Jim Lolli
Ryan Costello
Manny DeMutis
Mary Foote
Jim McKeegan
Robb Frees

From my information apparently the board is missing a Council liaison since John Messina is no longer on Council.

A liaison is required for the CDC as per their arrangements with the borough.

I will be back later to answer the rest of your questions.

The "real" world demands much of my attention today.

Karen said...

Anonymous 12:25, in an effort to help you understand the facts you catagorize as "doom" here is yet another article clearly defining the state of our economy.


Consumer prices up sharply, job market softens
Thu Aug 14, 2008 9:35am EDT
By Glenn Somerville

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Consumer prices climbed at twice the rate expected in July and job prospects kept softening last week, according to Labor Department reports on Thursday that pointed to swelling economic stress.

The department's Consumer Price Index, the most commonly used inflation gauge, rose 0.8 percent in July and on a year-over-year basis jumped 5.6 percent, its strongest advance since January 1991 when the first Gulf War was occurring.

Costlier energy and food helped push July prices up but, since that time, oil prices have begun to decline and analysts hoped that July might mark a watershed on inflation pressures.

"If we don't get an unexpected shock that pushes commodity prices back up, this might be the worst inflation news that we'll get for a while," said Gary Thayer, senior economist with Wachovia Securities in St. Louis.

Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy items, gained 0.3 percent in each of June and July and rose 2.5 percent last month on a year-over-year basis.

"It is certainly above expectations here, but I think we've probably seen, for the near-term anyway, the worst of the inflation readings," said Keith Hembre, chief economist for First American Funds in Minneapolis.

The dollar rose and Treasuries fell after the data but quickly reversed course, with the dollar standing little changed on the day and government bond prices higher. Stock futures were lower.

U.S. job markets are also severely strained, adding to the burden on consumers who fuel two-thirds of economic activity through their purchases of goods and services.

In a separate report, the Labor Department said another 450,000 workers filed new claims for jobless benefits last week, down 10,000 from a week earlier but still at levels that are associated with recession.

In fact, a four-week moving average of new jobless claims that is regarded as a better gauge of underlying labor trends because it irons out week-to-week volatility, climbed to 440,500 from 421,000 the week before.

That was the highest reading for the moving average in more than six years, since it hit 445,500 in April 2002.

The CPI report showed energy prices kept pushing higher, rising 4 percent in July after a 6.6 percent June gain. That put energy costs up 29.3 percent on a year-over-year basis, a fact that motorists who pay 37.9 percent more for gasoline than a year earlier know painfully well.

Food costs rose 0.9 percent following a 0.8 percent June increase, putting them 6 percent above levels a year ago.

(Additional reporting by Ellen Freilich and Walter Brandimarte in New York, Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Karen said...

Anonymous 12:46, make no mistake about what I am writing to you.

There are no lemmings anymore. Unless, of course, you mention those who blindly follow a political ideaology without thinking for themselves.

In today's world, information is deseminated almost instantaneously from a myraid of sources. More people are capable of drawing their own conclusions on an issue than ever before. And...they are.

With no disrespect to you, you have no idea what I do know and don't know. I will be back later to answer the other poster's questions.

Until then perhaps you would like to enlighten all of us as to what you think the CDC does, and thanks!

By-the-way, I would love a "field trip". Just give me a call.

Anonymous said...

anon- August 14, 12:53:00 AM EDT


"You fail to realize in your title heading that ALL members of council approved the CDC contract."

Say what??? 3 members voted against so how does the math add up to ALL members approved contract?

Anonymous said...

Karen could you please tell us what these people on the CDC do for a living? Some of us don't know them all. Do they all live in Phoenixville?

Jeff Senley said...

There is no CDC liaison from Council.

Rich Kirkner served in this position for a few months last year, and when he resigned that position, no new appointee was made by then-President John Messina.

Current President Wagner has not appointed another liaison to date.

Karen said...

Received anonymously and edited.

Do we really need a liason now that DiGirolomo is no longer employed by the borough?

Posted by Anonymous to Karen Johns - Life in Phoenixville at August 14, 2008 7:33:00 PM EDT