Saturday, December 19, 2009

Open thread

For the purpose of open discussions on any issue.

Are you and the kids enjoying the snow? Encountering any problems? Have you heard of the postponement of an event or a closing?

How about that zero percent borough budget for 2010? Are you incredulous or skeptical as to how this was accomplished?

I was.

Yesterday, it was bought to my attention that at least 2 borough employees may have been laid off as a result of the financial situation during the budget review process.

I've been told one long term, non-union employee from the Streets Department and a shorter tenured office employee are now gone from the ranks of the employed just prior to the Christmas season.

I certainly have my thoughts and comments about the action.

First and foremost, in my humble opinion, laying off employees during the holiday season, or at any time during the year while there is WASTE of taxpayer dollars still on the books for next year is cruel, heartless, and defies commonsense practice in the financial administration of a municipality.

If the goal was to save $150,000+ or minus, WHY IS THE CDC STILL FUNDED BY THE TAXPAYER? Sure, the $125,000 contract amount was halved, but the budget was at least partially balanced by eliminating TWO borough employees.

Where is the fiscal responsibility in allowing downtown BLING to be subsidized by the taxpayer while two employees are pink slipped in this horrid economy?

Let's suppose, for the sake of argument and not from known fact, that two families are now experiencing the worst Christmas of their lives because of the termination.

Can anyone justify throwing $62,100 to the high winds of the downtown district?

Merry Christmas.


Ed Naratil said...

Info from the Phoenixville Federal Bank & Trust Co. home page:

The Pottstown Symphony Orchestra performance scheduled for Saturday, December 19th at Phoenixville Area High School has been CANCELLED due to the weather forecast.

Ed Naratil said...

And we could have saved $2500 by NOT being a 'classic town'. I guess there were many against this expenditure of 'buying a title' but click here and you'll see what we're getting for the money.

Karen said...

Thanks, Ed, for the info on the concert.

I believe the contract for the "Classic town" designation was for 2 years at $2500 per year.

We really needed another website about Phoenixville.

Ed, do you or anyone else remember if the taxpayers bought in on this for both years?

Ed Naratil said...

Karen - from the Minutes of Council's meeting of August 11, approved at the August 25th meeting (looks like two years to me):

"IX. Resolutions: Consider Adoption of Resolution for Submitting the Borough of Phoenixville Nomination to the Delaware Valley Planning Commission its Nomination for Becoming a Classic Town and Authorizing the Financial Commitment of $2,500 per year for Two Years – Mr. Ciruelos made a motion to adopt the resolution to become a classic town, seconded by Mr. Gill, and approved by a vote of 5 to 1 with Mr. Kirkner voting no.

ON THE QUESTION: Mr. Ciruelos asked the Borough Manager to give an explanation of what this means to Phoenixville.

(Mr. Krack responded with his explanation and said we must remain a top 30 community).

Mr. Kirkner asked if this is a nomination process? (Mr. Krack said yes and stated we were nominated by the Chester County Planning Commission and said we are paying for the advertising, where it is marketed, and web presence).

Mr. Kirkner asked what does this do for us. Mr. Krack responded that it gives us an identity and
further went on to say that we have done a great job making Phoenixville a community that people want to come to. He said West Chester’s Main Street person said you can not buy this kind of advertising.

Mr. Kirkner said kind of signal are we sending to the communities and stated he has a hard time
putting this under essential government services because it is a tough economy out there.

Mr. Ciruelos said in a tough economy we need this kind of marketing. He said there is a certain power to this.

Mr. Buckwalter said his family history goes way back and today people have a positive attitude for the town. He said the designation is a good thing for the residents and he is in favor.

Mr. Wagner said in marketing we are marketing that this is a great place to live for residents. He said he agrees it is a tough economy and we need to pool our resources."

Anonymous said...

According to Alexa, a site that ranks popularity of sites, Phoenixville's classic site is ranked 6,249,893 in the world with 13 external sites linked in to it.

I'd bet there are about 13 daily visitors to Phoenixville's classic site at

We got totally ripped off.

Karen said...

Thanks, Ed, for that research.

By the read of those minutes, Councilman Kirkner is the only speaker with concern for the taxpayer.

I have to quote Henry Wagner.

"Mr. Wagner said in marketing we are marketing that this is a great place to live for residents. He said he agrees it is a tough economy and we need to pool our resources."

Phoenixville IS a great place to live!

And, in order to maintain that status, we residents are required by law to support our local government by taxation, just as people do all over our country and the world.

No where in law does it REQUIRE US to support the BLING of a downtown district with the ADDITION of hundreds of thousands of dollars which a majority of this Council has us obligated us to pay over the course of the CDC contract along with other follies.

If the majority of Council believed the CDC contract and other requests for a "public, private partnership" is/was so worthy they should have just passed the hat among themselves for contributions.

Councilman Wagner and others need to change their mind-set and focus to one of pooling "our resources" for the RESIDENTS.

Ed Naratil said...

Thanks anon for the info on Alexa.

It gives the Borough's web site a better rating than the 'classic town' site. comes out # 3,411,171 with 37 links to it.

OK Council, how much are we paying for that site? It must be considerably more than $2.500 since it ranks a lot higher and with more links to it than the 'classic town' site.

Ed Naratil said...

And while we're in an open thread - be careful where and how you park your car. The Parking Authority is being given some more legal status.

Here's a 'legal notice' posted in the Pottstown Mercury (I DO like the part that makes it illegal to park/stop/stand on the non-recessed areas of Bridge Street):

NOTICE On Tuesday January 12 2010 at 7:00 P.M. prevailing time at Phoenixville Borough Hall 140 Church Street Phoenixville PA 19460 the Phoenixville Borough Council will conduct a public hearing to consider and immediately thereafter during its regular meeting take action on an Ordinance to amend The Code of the Borough of Phoenixville as amended Chapter 1 "Administration and Government," Part 2 "Appointed Officials," by deleting subsection B "parking enforcement officer"; and Chapter 15 "Motor Vehicles and Traffic," Part 4 "General Parking Regulations," by setting time limits for parking on certain sections of Bridge Street Gay Street and Main Street and providing the Phoenixville Parking Authority with joint jurisdiction to ticket vehicles for violations of the provisions of Part 4; Part 5 "On-Street Metered Parking," to provide the Phoenixville Parking Authority with joint jurisdiction to ticket vehicles for violations of the provisions of Part 5; Part 6 "On-Street Unmetered Parking," by limiting parking on portions of Bridge Street to recessed areas prohibiting parking stopping and/or standing in the non-recessed areas on certain portions of Bridge Street and providing the Phoenixville Parking Authority with joint jurisdiction to ticket vehicles for violations of the provisions of Part 6; Part 7 "Off-Street Metered Parking," by deleting the Part in its entirety and marking it "Reserved"; and Part 8 "Off-Street Unmetered Parking," by providing the Phoenixville Parking Authority with joint jurisdiction to ticket vehicles for violations of the provisions of Part 8. A complete copy of the ordinance may be examined at Phoenixville Borough Hall 140 Church Street Phoenixville Monday through Friday 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. and attested copies of the Ordinance are on file at The Mercury 24 North Hanover Street Pottstown PA 19464 and the Chester County Law Library 201 W. Market Street Suite 2400 West Chester PA 19380-0989 where the same can be examined without charge. If any person who wishes to attend the meeting has a disability and/or requires an auxiliary aid service or other accommodation to observe or participate in the proceedings he or she should contact E. Jean Krack Borough Manager at 610-933-8801 to discuss how those needs may be accommodated. Unruh Turner Burke & Frees P.C. Borough Solicitor

Karen said...

Thank you, Anonymous 5:31 p.m., for the info on Alexa.

I'll check it later.

Karen said...

Yikes, Ed!

If the public doesn't read the new ordinance here, at the Mercury, or hunt for it on the borough website, they'll be completely unaware.


Karen said...

Yikes, Ed!

If the public doesn't read the new ordinance here, at the Mercury, or hunt for it on the borough website, they'll be completely unaware.


A Phoenixville Taxpayer said...

As long as it's open, does anyone know what happened to our other bloggers that tried to keep us informed about Phoenixville?

I mean:

They've all but disappeared.

Anonymous said...

To "A Phoenixville Taxpayer," the aroundphoenixville blog is still pretty active. The others I don't know about.

On another note, there is going to be a holiday concert at Steel City today at 2pm for anyone getting out and about. The parking lot behind it has been cleared. See you there!

A Phoenixville Taxpayer said...

A great big "whoops". I didn't mean to include the aroundphoenixville url. Probably brain freeze from being outside shoveling too much snow.

And, if Jeff Senley has health problems as stated in the Phoenix, I can understand his blog not being updated.

Anonymous said...

Karen, the two people who were laid off, were the two oldest in age at the borough, If that doesn't say age discrimation I don't know what does. A good company takes a hit with the higher up saleries in order to save jobs. Enough said

A Phoenixville Taxpayer said...

Wondering: Age discrimination? Another lawsuit against the Borough?

Or perhaps, this was a voluntary lay-off. Too good a package to refuse?

More data is needed to make a qualified decision.

But in either case the tax-payers will be paying and paying and paying.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the borough use some of our tax $ to plow the secondary streets around the borough. Everyone pays taxes, but if you don't live on a major thoroughfare, you don't get your street plowed. It would also be nice if they would notify residents of when the plow will be coming through so residents can move their cars to avoid being plowed in.

Anonymous said...

I think the title of this post, "Open Thread", should be changed to "Whining and Complaining Thread".

Geez, people. Do you really want to see the downtown revert back to what it was 10 yrs ago? $62,500 is well worth a chance at keeping the downtown moving forward.

Do you really want the Parking Authority to remain powerless and irrelevant? By the way, posting this ordinance on the Phoenixville website seems perfectly appropriate. What would have them do: send out a letter or call each resident? How much would that cost? Then you would complain about that.

Same with the plowing. You want them to call you and tell you that your street is going to get plowed? I'm sure they do a lot of the plowing by contrating the work out and there is probably no way to schedule the plowing. Again it would cost a bunch of $ to schedule the snowplowing and then somehow notify the residents. Then you all would whine and complain about that.

I bet things are real cheery and festive during the holidays at your houses!

Anonymous said...

They would be more festive if I didn't get plowed in with 3 feet of snow everytime it snowed out. Then I'd have time to spend with family rather than shoveling. Not to mention the agonizing back pain I then get. I wonder if I can sue the borough for causing me this pain and suffering?

Anonymous said...

Sue God for all the snow. Our borough is broke.

Anonymous said...

We can just go deeper into the hole. It would just be like the US government.

Anonymous said...

It's Tuesday evening and my street hasn't seen a snow plow since Saturday. Silly me, I don't live on beloved Bridge street.

Anonymous said...

Ho ho ho ho

Unhappy holidays and miserable Christmas to all!

Any chance for a "Positive Open Thread"?

Then I can ignore the typical Whining and Complaining Open Thread.

Anonymous said...

So - just where do you live?
Did you call Borough Hall?
How can anyone help you if you don't?

Anonymous said...

While I agree that Barry Cassidy and the CDC contract should be 100%grant funded at this point, why is it a "bad" thing that the Phoenixville local government laid off two people who clearly were NOT needed? It stinks for anyone to lose their job to a lay off but two people let go is much better then many other local townships and it helped avoid ANOTHER tax increase.

My bigger question is why you Phoenixville old timers hate Phoenixville's progress. You and "Ed Naratil" have bashed the downtown "bling" through this thread. I remember the only "businesses" on Bridge Street were the Phoenix Tavern, LoJos, Spectators, and toothless hookers. As a matter of fact, that was during YOUR watch on Council wasn't it Karen?

I think Cassidy is an over-rated, foul mouthed bully who is no longer needed at this point but I also have to give credit where it is do. He did more for Phoenixville in his time then you and the rest of the old time complainers have EVER done.

If you people hate the progress of Phoenixville so much, I suggest you move to Norristown or Coatesville. Those places are just like the "old" Phoenixville so I'm sure you'll fit right in!


Karen said...

Part 1

Anonymous 12:02 p.m., at least we agreee the CDC should not receive funding directly from the borough taxpayers. That's a start.

Stay with me as we go through your other points.

How do we know the laid off employees were clearly NOT needed? Why were they hired to begin with then? Do you have inside knowlege you can share with us which leads you to that assessment?

Balancing the 2010 budget at least partially on the backs of two employees is not demonstrating fiscal responsiblity.

Alternatives run from pay cuts for the highest salaried employees to requiring each department to cut a certain percentage of their individual budgets to controlling wasteful expenditures.

Speaking personally as an old timer, born and raised in Phoenixville, I love my hometown.

Please re-read that statement.

I also enjoy some of the progress in our community, but not all of it.

Let me explain.

Council chose to abdicate certain responsibilities even including some or all grant writing which should be directed to be done by the borough manager as it has in the past. There truly is no need to spend thousands of dollars to have someone who is not a borough official handling borough monetary affairs.

Please explain to me why it is the responsibility of the town's 16,000taxpaying souls to pay for the downtown business district's bling? Why should we pay for advertisement, marketing, and whatever else the CDC brings to the curb?

Do you have anyone giving you tax money to fix up your home or property to either update it, make repairs, or to make the cover of the latest issue of Home and Garden?

I'd like to ask you to stop the nonsense about me, and others, too, hating the progress in Phoenixville. It is not true, and anyone who knows me and my work in this community knows differently.

I can remember, Anonymous, when the streets were filled with shoppers because we had great stores downtown. We did not need many bars and restaurants and block parties to draw those customers. The business owners were able to supply everything from shoes for the entire family to jewelry, specialized tools, and gifts, as well as great dinners and drinks. The shops were well frequented by every age group in the spectrum and business was healthy.

continued: Part 2

Karen said...

Part 2

Shop keepers retired or passed away and they weren't replaced.

Insofar as the working women, let's just say they're still around.

In defense of Barry, he has always been a gentleman with me. I have no personal angst with him.

Barry has done some good work, but I will match the work I've done for Phoenixville with him, Anonymous. Check this blog's search engine for an old resume` of mine which frankly, needs updating.

What you don't realize, Anonymous, when you jump from board to board and shout people should move to another community is the fact that this town would not be the town you now enjoy if it weren't for the old timers who have, by their blood, sweat, and tears, made Phoenixville what you see today.

In fact, do you realize the entire decade of the 90's when I served, we were working hard and planning for much of what you see now? The restoration of the Foundry among other work began, believe it or not, in the early 1990's. The process of revitalization, securing grants and support is lengthy and laborious.

As a point of information, Anonymous, I was so dedicated to representing the residents and my job, I spent my 26th wedding anniversary at a borough Council meeting. During my terms the people of Phoenixville were represented by me 110%.

I won't be moving anywhere, Anonymous.

I will be just as vocal, just as active as I've been all my life. If I draw the ire of those who are not willing to take the time and effort to learn the facts and shape the direction of the future of Phoenixville, so be it.

This is MY HOMETOWN. It is now YOUR HOMETOWN. Help shape the future and the minds of those with the voting powers to do so.

Nothing constructive is accomplished by attempts to denigrate those old timers who love their community, have definite and definitive ideas, and only want what is best for the entire town in the future.

I hope this helps you understand my position.

If not, please call me.

Peace to you, also.

Ed Naratil said...

Anon 12:02 -
Would you like to identify yourself and outline your complaints? I'll be glad to address them

Yes, I was against the Foundry plans.
Yes, I am against the library expansion.
Yes, I didn't/don't think we need a parking authority

I don't see where any of this says I'm against what's happening downtown.

If you know how, I assume you do, you can e-mail me at the address obtainable from the blog with your complaints.

I will NOT get in an argument on someone's blog.

Anonymous said...

Why is it, with leaf collection, that ll the residents pay borough taxes, but don't get the same services. Every resident pays taxes, but not everyone gets the luxury of having a leaf sucker come by to pick up the leaves at our place (and we don't even have trees on our property)?

Anonymous said...

"I can remember, Anonymous, when the streets were filled with shoppers because we had great stores downtown....The business owners were able to supply everything... as well as great dinners and drinks. The shops were well frequented by every age group in the spectrum and business was healthy."

This was truly a good time period in Phoenixville's history. Life in the steel mill town was bustling and alive. The steel mill closed, however, and with it went most of those businesses. At this same time malls were becoming popular. This added to the decline of Phoenixville as you knew it.

For years the downtown was a blight with empty storefronts and drugs being sold openly right on Bridge St. The apartments were old and in need of repair, housing some Section 8 units.

Our downtown area defined us as an old dying steel town. Our downtown changed and Phoenixville has again risen from the ashes. There are no more bars now than there ever were, if you count Kohns, the Uk, Slovak, Polish clubs, etc. The downtown has helped us to regain pride in our little town and in ourselves.

Demographics change, and for sure the culture of Phoenixille has changed to meet the need of the times. We are no longer a steel town. We are a bedroom community that caters to our own as well as the larger community which surrounds us. Our personal choice is to change with the times and welcome what Phoenixville has evolved into or to sit back, close ourselves off and complain. This means getting out and supporting the restuarants and businesses so they can afford to stay open and our town doesn't slip back into the depressing place it had been for more then two decades.

Phoenixville as we knew it is gone. Life changes.

LivlivinginPville said...

Thanks for your blog. I check here regularly to feel more connected to my hometown. My husband and I moved here Dec 2008, and are proud to call this up and coming borough our home. We look forward to being more involved in our community and cherishing it the way that you do.
Have a blessed new year & I look forward to reading more from you soon!

Anonymous said...

Time to give credit where credit is due.

Great job bringing $250K to the borough to continue the revitilization of Phoenixville.

Anonymous said...

Great news. Now tell Manny to fire up the 'dozers, level that waste of a block and start construction.

Phoenixville could use the jobs and the tax dollars.

Karen said...

Anonymous January 2, 2010 10:22 a.m., yes, there is a reason.

When all the information is available I will publish it.

Thank you for your persistence.

Anonymous said...

I would like too take some time too Thank all the people for doing what you do and make this community great im a long time reader and first time poster so i just wanted to say thanks.

Anonymous said...

I would like too take some time too thank the active members for doing what you do and make this community great im a long time reader and first time poster so i just wanted to say thanks.