Developer files lawsuit against Pottstown
Local developer Frank McLaughlin has filed suit against Pottstown Borough alleging that for the past seven years the borough has been collecting permit fees it was not authorized to issue. The lawsuit estimates that the borough has collected between $750,000 and $1 million per year in permit fees. According to the suit, the borough failed to pass an ordinance re-authorizing Pottstown to issue permits for items such as roof and siding replacements after the Pennsylvania General Assembly adopted changes to the Uniform Construction Code. The suit also charges that local developers and others have been prosecuted by the borough for doing work without certain permits, even though the borough has not re-authorized itself to issue the permits. The lawsuit also alleges that the fire marshal who has conducted reviews and inspections for the borough has never been certified by the state to act in that role.
Source: Pottstown Mercury; 6/17/2011
Norristown softens proposed solicitation ordinance
Norristown officials will vote on a “softer” version of an ordinance that will prohibit handbills after a lawsuit was threatened over the proposed total prohibition of handbills in Norristown. The new version will allow residents to place a sign no larger than 18 inches by 6 inches that reads “No Solicitation or Handbills” to prohibit persons and companies from distributing “commercial handbills or other unsubscribed literature.” Property owners will be responsible for erecting and maintaining the signs. The public hearing is scheduled for June 21, and if adopted, the ordinance will go into effect in five days. The police and code enforcement departments will enforce the new rules and violators found guilty can face a fine of $600 to $1,000 for each property on which a violation occurs.
Source: Times Herald; 6/13/2011
Pottstown identifies 800 illegal rental properties
Pottstown Borough has identified close to 800 rental apartments that are illegal since adopting a stricter rental property ordinance. If recent census numbers are correct, this would mean that 20 percent of the 3,902 rental units reported in Pottstown were illegal. Manager Jason Bobst attributes locating the illegal units to the rental property ordinance, which requires rental units to be licensed and makes it impossible to get licensed if money is owed to the borough, either for taxes, fees or water bills. New software implemented allows the borough to cross reference code violations with rental properties and verify that all bills and fees associated with the property are paid in full. The borough will now focus on tenant reports, which indicate who occupies an apartment and aids in the full collection of earned income tax, a revenue source split between the borough and Pottstown School District. Failure to provide up-to-date tenancy reports carries a $1,000 penalty. Pottstown also hopes to increase citizen awareness and input regarding the condition of residential properties through www.acleanerpottstown.org.
Source: Pottstown Mercury; 6/21/2011
Upper Moreland approves zero tax increase budget
The Upper Moreland School Board adopted a 2011-12 budget that includes no tax increase. The tax rate will remain at 26.77 mills, for a tax bill of $3,360.17 on the average home assessed at $125,520. The final budget projects a $157,018 drop in real estate taxes due to a $6.27 million decline in assessments. Assessment appeals are also contributing to a recurring $1.1 million drop in tax revenue for the district. Upper Moreland will draw $2.45 million from fund balance savings to balance the budget.
Source: Public Spirit; 6/22/2011
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