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Series - Keystone Crossroads: Challenges facing PA cities

Written by Tim Lambert, witf Multimedia News Director | Jan 30, 2016 8:02 PM

(Undated) -- Pennsylvania's cities faced a number of challenges in 2015, including:

-- Whether more exemptions for nonprofits would put a heavier burden on the taxpayer

-- How distressed cities could use less dysfunction from its leaders

-- How a city became the first to escape the Act 47 program for distress municipalities.

-- If a coveted state economic development program is working.

-- The effort in one cash-strapped city is hoping use its past to improve its future.

--One community's growing reputation as a hub for refugees.

Keystone Crossroads Emily Previti delves into each of these issues. This entry consists of six stories (which have been edited for time).

 

STORY 1 LEAD-IN:

Pennsylvania voters will be asked this fall to decide whether to amend the state's constitution - if the state House of Representatives passes Senate Bill Four.

The legislation proposes giving state lawmakers ultimate authority over what's considered a charity.

Charities don't pay real estate taxes, so the proposal worries leaders in communities where many properties already are untaxed.

They fear MORE exemptions, and a heavier burden on taxpayers to support roads, police officers and other public services.

But as Keystone Crossroads Emily Previti reports, some lawmakers say these taxing imbalances can be addressed without battling over constitutional authority and charitable status.

Air date: 03/10/205

 

STORY 2 LEAD-IN:

Pennsylvania's distressed cities are operating with little room for error. They cannot afford for anything - including grudges and personality conflicts - to delay or derail government initiatives.

But Keystone Crossroads Emily Previti reports the state's Act 47 program for unstable local governments doesn't address how elected officials might get along better.

Air date: 6/11/2015

 

STORY 3 LEAD-IN:

No Pennsylvania city's ever successfully completed the Commonwealth's Act 47 program for distressed municipalities.

That could change within the next few months if the state stops overseeing the city of Nanticoke's finances.

But Keystone Crossroads Emily Previti reports the coal region city's financial stability comes with caveats.

Air date: 07/06/2015

 

STORY 4 LEAD-IN

If I say CRIZ, does that mean anything to you? It stands for Community Revitalization & Improvement Zone, a state program that's supposed to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in new development for Pennsylvania communities.

Everyone wanted a CRIZ, but just two cities got one.

Keystone Crossroads Emily Previti reports it's off to a surprisingly slow start.

Air date: 08/02/2015

 

STORY 5 LEAD-IN:

When industry dies, its defunct facilities are a liability: maintain, modify, demolish - the options are pricey and complex for cash-strapped city committed to honoring the legacies, however painful, these relics represent.

The city of Bethlehem's struggle typifies the Rust Belt experience, but with an atypical outcome.

Keystone Crossroads Emily Previti reports it might all amount to a waiting game.

 Air date: 11/12/15

 

STORY 6 LEAD-IN:

Things have changed for the people who resettle refugees in the United States - and their clients. Even in states like Pennsylvania, where the governor's supportive, unlike most.

Keystone Crossroads Emily Previti reports from the city of Lancaster, which is a hub for refugees.


Air date: 12/09/2015

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