Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

To pare down school costs, Pottstown votes to privatize crossing guards

Source: Laura Benshoff, NewsWorks, July 12, 2016

This week, Pottstown Borough voted to join Manheim Borough in Lancaster County and Steelton-Highspire School District in Dauphin County in privatizing management of its crossing guard corps. Crossing guard positions are seasonal and part time. They also require morning and afternoon commitments during the school year that bogart more time than other part-time positions, said borough manager Mark Flanders. … In January, an internal borough audit discovered that it was underbilling the Pottstown School District more than $80,000 a year in overhead costs for managing the crossing guards, bumping the estimated cost to pay and manage the staff from $181,000 to $267,000. The school district pays for the service, but the borough is in charge of managing and billing for it. Under the forthcoming one-year contract with All City Management Services, existing crossing guards will keep their jobs and won’t take a pay cut, according to Flanders. The Reading Eagle reported that there are 30 existing crossing guards, while Flanders said the contract will guarantee positions for 25. …

Privatized trash service voted down in Palmyra

Source: Merriell Moyer, Lebanon Daily News, July 12, 2016

Palmyra will not be getting refuse removal from a private service despite the efforts of certain members of borough council. Palmyra Borough Councilor Brian Craig led an investigation to see if privatization of the trash service, which is currently handled by borough employees, would save money for both residents and the borough. … The borough posted a document detailing the cost and service differences between a private service and the borough, and Craig submitted a letter that was published in the July 7 edition of the Lebanon Daily News in an effort to explain his plan. During borough council’s workshop meeting Tuesday, around 50 Palmyra residents came out to express their opinions. … Hennessy made the motion to vote to keep the borough’s current trash service, and Shearer seconded the motion. With Councilman Joseph Templin unable to attend the meeting, the vote passed 4-2 with Craig and Mellinger voting against keeping the borough’s trash service. …

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Palmyra decides against privatizing trash collection
Source: Barbara Miller, pennlive.com, September 10, 2015

Palmyra will keep operating its own trash removal service, but rates may have to go up. Borough council voted 6-1 this week to stay with the borough-provided service, rather than contract with a private firm, said Roger Powl, borough manager. The majority was concerned with laying off three borough employees, Powl said. That’s even though the private hauler interested in providing service said he would offer the borough workers employment, Powl said.

Palmyra Borough Council to vote on privatizing trash pickup
Source: Monica Von Dobeneck, pennlive.com, August 31, 2015

Privatizing Palmyra’s trash pickup could save borough residents money, but it could also mean laying off three long time employees. On Tuesday, Sept. 8, borough council will vote on whether to make the change. Palmyra is one of the few – maybe the only – midstate community which runs its own trash collection. … Out of curiosity, borough officials solicited bids from private haulers. Bids came in lower than they expected. The low bidder – Weidle Sanitation of Lebanon – would be able to do the job for what amounts to between $37 and $40 a quarter. That is based on a three year contract with the ability to expand to five years. … Mayor Fred Carpenter wants to save those three jobs, and has said he will bring people to Tuesday’s council meeting who feel the same way. Powl said the vote might also draw residents more interested in saving money.

W-B officials discard plan to privatize ambulance service

Source: Bob Kalinowski, Citizen’s Voice, July 7, 2016

Mayor Tony George’s administration has abandoned efforts to privatize the city’s ambulance service “at this time” because of provisions in the union contract covering city paramedics, the city’s open records officer said in response to a Right-to-Know request filed by The Citizens’ Voice. … Tom Borum, business manager for the union representing the city’s eight paramedics, said the administration also told him the proposals were thrown away and no longer available for him to review. “That’s the same information I got when I asked about it,” said Borum, the leader of Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local 1310. Borum said it’s the union’s position that the current contract for city paramedics prohibits privatization. …

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W-B firefighters union unhappy with Trans-Med response time
Source: Bob Kalinowski, Citizen’s Voice, June 18, 2016

Trans-Med’s first high-profile test during a medical emergency came Thursday morning when a man was stabbed multiple times at the Sherman Hills Apartments. … Both of the city’s ambulances were busy on calls when Luzerne County 911 dispatched emergency crews Thursday at 10:09 a.m. and 44 seconds. Following a controversial new dispatch protocol implemented by the new city administration, Trans-Med Ambulance was called to the scene as the primary backup. City police were at the scene in a minute. A city fire engine, dispatched at the same time as Trans-Med, arrived at 10:13 a.m. and 25 seconds and firefighters made first contact with the victim, according to firefighter Dave Roberts, a spokesman for the union. … Trans-Med’s ambulance arrived at 10:17 a.m. and 18 seconds, nearly eight minutes after being dispatched, said Roberts, citing 911 dispatch logs available to emergency crews. Trans-Med had promised to have ambulances ready at two staging areas in the city — near the Penn Plaza on South Main Street and near Schiel’s Market on George Avenue, Roberts noted. …

W-B mayor sought ambulance proposals
Source: Bob Kalinowski and Jacob Seigel, Citizen’s Voice, April 9, 2016

Mayor Tony George is eyeing major changes to the city-run ambulance service and has asked two for-profit companies to submit proposals. Trans-Med Ambulance, recently named by George as the city’s primary backup service, submitted a plan to eliminate the city-run ambulance operation entirely and take over, according to an outline of the proposal obtained by The Citizens’ Voice. Commonwealth Health Emergency Medical Services, or CHEMS, submitted a proposal for ambulance services at the request of George, said spokeswoman Renita Fennick, who declined to offer any details about the plan. … News that George is looking to shake up the city-run operation follows weeks of controversy over his decision to end a mutual aid agreement with ambulance services in neighboring towns to make for-profit Trans-Med the primary backup. … In its proposal, Trans-Med offered to add a third ambulance to run in the city and make available more units when needed. It will consider leasing the current facilities housing Wilkes-Barre ambulances. … Trans-Med’s proposal assures “all City of Wilkes-Barre employees impacted by the future state of EMS response will be offered employment with Trans-Med.” The proposal, however, contradicts what Homer Berlew, president of Trans-Med, told city council members at Monday’s meeting when they passed a nonbinding resolution in favor of keeping the current mutual aid agreement.

Editorial: Is this any way to run an ambulance?
Source: Citizen’s Voice, April 10, 2016

If Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George is planning to replace the city’s ambulance provider with a for-profit alternative, he’s doing a terrible job with the rollout. George’s decision to contract privately owned Trans-Med Ambulance Inc. to handle calls when the city’s ambulances are busy — a role now filled by non-profit crews from three neighboring towns — was leaked before the mayor could properly present it to his constituents. And the mayor’s contention that the switch was designed to save fees for residents served by a secondary responder didn’t stand up to scrutiny, as reporting in The Citizens’ Voice revealed last week that most of those residents would see no change while some might pay more under George’s plan. … George has hinted that ending the city-provided service could improve Wilkes-Barre’s bottom line. But in 2015, the fees and reimbursements collected by the city for its ambulance service slightly exceeded the $1.62 million in budgeted expenses, according to the city’s fire chief. That was not true in previous years, when fees and reimbursements did not cover costs, but it shows the city can break even.

COLUMBUS JUST WON $50 MILLION TO BECOME THE CITY OF THE FUTURE

Source: Aarian Marshall, Wired, June 23, 2016

….. If all goes according to plan, the Ohio capital will soon burst with electric vehicles, autonomous shuttles, platooning trucks, and bus rapid transit, which will sail through smart traffic lights that turn green just for them. Every resident will benefit.  Foxx today declared Columbus the winner of the $40 million Smart City Challenge, a competition that asked mid-size governments to envision how their city could capitalize on growing overlaps in transportation and technology. Announced in December, it’s the first of its kind: a speedy grant process buttressed by public-private partnerships, with money for cities instead of states. Of the 78 cities that competed, seven made it to the final round: Austin, Texas; Denver; Kansas City, Missouri; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Columbus…. Foxx says Columbus isn’t the only winner here. The six losing finalists can pursue their own plans, with technical and financial assistance from the DOT and its private sector partners, including Alphabet, Mobileye, Autodesk, NXP Semiconductors, and Vulcan. Even those who didn’t make it to the final round now hold detailed plans that could lead to their own equitable transportation futures. Columbus is just the first guy on the dance floor. ….

House to consider bill encouraging private development of water parks, golf courses and more in state parks

Source: Jan Murphy, Penn Live, June 22, 2016

Legislation that the House is expected to begin considering on Thursday would establish a public-private state park partnership board that would solicit and vet proposals from private developers interested in landing up to a 25-year contract to operate such facilities as a hotel, an inn, water park, amusement park, golf course, office building, restaurant, among others. … Pennsylvania has 120 state parks that are managed by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The department holds the authority to enter into contracts with private companies and already has deals with 138 concessionaires that operate ski areas, whitewater rafting, food concessions, and boat rentals on state land. Two parks also offer lodging – Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park and Gateway Lodge at Cook Forest State Park. … Opponents also are concerned that the costs associated with a separate public-private partnership board will end up being borne by DCNR, an agency they say is so underfunded that it has built up a big backlog of park maintenance projects requiring attention. They point to the P3 office that PennDOT created to serve as a liaison between its so-called P3 board and department and the $1 million a year cost it now has to carry. …

Phila Child Welfare System Faces Crucial Test

Source: Pat Loeb, CBS Philly, June 19, 2016

Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services faces a crucial test on Monday in its effort to get its full state license restored. It must hand in a revised plan of correction to address some 70 violations cited when the state downgraded its license last month to provisional status. … Shapiro said the Department has addressed two of the most serious violations: missed home visits covered up with fraudulent paperwork, and using a room in the DHS office for overnight visits. She said seven employees of Community Umbrella Agencies (CUAs), that have taken over child welfare cases for the city, have been fired after investigations showed they had filed false home visit reports, and that new procedures have been put in place to prevent a recurrence. She also reported that no children have stayed overnight at DHS since May 26th. … Shapiro acknowledged case workers at the CUA’s remain overloaded, responsible for 13 or 14 cases, though the original outsourcing plan called for no more than 10 cases per worker, a load that better insureschild safety. She said she’s working with the state to find money so the CUA’s can hire more case workers. But the president of District Council 47 blamed the problems on the outsourcing itself. DC 47 represents the case workers who remain on the department payroll despite the CUA’s assuming case management. …

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City DHS stops holding children overnight in office
Source: Julia Terruso, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 15, 2016

DHS is several years into an overhaul of its system that puts private community-umbrella agencies (CUA) in charge of case management and leaves DHS to handle oversight. As the agency has transitioned, it has also swelled – taking in 2,000 more children than in 2012. The increase has resulted in overburdened CUA workers, who handle an average of 13 cases and 30 or more children. Vanessa Fields, vice president of AFSCME District Council 47, which represents employees at DHS, called the overhaul a failure. … David Fair, deputy CEO at Turning Points for Children, one of the 10 community umbrella agencies contracted by the city, said CUAs need more funding to hire case workers, a request the city has consistently denied, citing its own budget restraints and staffing needs. Fair said CUAs have 392 case managers doing work formerly handled by 660. The turnover rate is about 15 percent and many of the problems cited in the state’s report stem from overburdened workers, he said. …

Plans to Turn Scranton Parking Authority Over to Nonprofit

Source: Stacy Lange, WNEP, June 3, 2016

City leaders announced a new partnership to fix parking problems in Scranton. The city of Scranton announced plans Friday morning to turn over its parking garages and parking meters to a nonprofit company. That company — National Development Council — helps cities across the country with community development projects … We learned that Scranton will save more than $3 million each year but we don’t know how the new management could affect folks who park downtown. NDC says they plan to invest in improvements for the garages and parking meters — something the city just can’t do. …

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Scranton Parking Authority privatization plan moving forward
Source: Kyle Wind, Times Tribune, July 11, 2015

Scranton remains on track to close a deal before the end of the year that could privatize five city-owned parking garages and nearly 1,500 metered spaces, a consultant said Friday. Citing the need for secrecy to get the best possible deal for the Scranton Parking Authority, city officials and consultants are keeping the details of preliminary offers from five companies who want to take over the operation close to the vest.

Scranton parking-meter plan comes under scrutiny
Source: Jim Lockwood, Scranton Times Tribune, February 9, 2013

A key question surrounding Scranton’s plan to privatize its parking meters is whether the city is getting a good deal.

The city’s plan to enter a five-year contract with a private firm, Standard Parking, to run the city’s on-street meter program has raised numerous questions and concerns among residents, business owners and council members.

Some think the proposed management agreement is tilted too heavily in favor of Standard Parking at the expense of the city.

For example, the proposed pact starts with a $10,000-a-month management fee that the city would pay to Standard. The city also would pay various operating expenses incurred by the firm that would jack up the monthly cost to the city in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $25,000 a month, said Councilman Bob McGoff. Those expenses include $6,910 in monthly meter charges, $895 a month to pay for two vehicles and 10 percent of ticket citation revenue for the processing of violations.

State docks Bethlehem Area for charter school’s missing retirement payment

Source: Jacqueline Palochko, The Morning Call, May 18, 2016

The Bethlehem Area School District is the latest school district to have its state aid docked when a charter school missed a pension payment. The school district had money deducted when the Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School missed a payment of about $115,000 to the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System. … Bethlehem Area had around $100,000 deducted from its state aid, and the charter school will cut a check to the district to make up for that, Taylor said. The district is up-to-date on its tuition payments. District leaders will meet with the charter school on Monday to discuss this situation … But the issue of who is on the hook when charter schools miss pension payments is being played out in the state Supreme Court. Last week, the court heard a case involving a shuttered Monroe County charter school that failed to make $210,000 in teachers’ pension payments. The Lehigh Valley has a couple situations going on that are similar. Trustees of the Medical Academy Charter School in Catasauqua have voted to close it next month because of low enrollment. The school is carrying $2.5 million in debt, including $103,472 in accrued pension liabilities, according to financial statements. The Northwestern Lehigh School District listed outstanding PSERS money owned by Circle of Seasons Charter School as a reason why it voted to start a process that could lead to non-renewal of its charter. During February’s meeting, the Circle of Seasons administration noted that its PSERS’ accrual was $121,000, going back to the second quarter of 2015, and was intended to be paid down in March. …

Philly schools trying second outsourcing firm for substitute teachers

Source: Tom MacDonald, NewsWorks, May 6, 2016

The Philadelphia School District is parting ways with a private company that has been doing a bad job providing substitute teachers this year, but another one is on deck. Tired of having to make do when Source4Teachers was unable to fill vacancies, the Philadelphia School District is switching staffing services. … At its best Source4Teachers was only able to fill about 55 percent of the substitute needs. Some schools had only 10 percent filled. Gallard says [Kelly Staffing Services] has a better record. … Gallard says the contract did not have to be put out for bid. All this school year, teachers have said the terrible fill rates have been a drain on them.  They have had to teach doubled-up classes or missed prep periods to cover for an absent colleague when no sub was available.

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Outsourcing contract to be revised
Source: Regina Medina and Solomon Leach, Daily News, November 19, 2015

SCHOOL DISTRICT Superintendent William Hite’s patience appears to have run out on Source4Teachers. Hite plans to ask the School Reform Commission tonight to revise the district’s two-year, $34 million contract with the Cherry Hill-based outsourcing firm, district spokesman Fernando Gallard confirmed yesterday. Source4Teachers has failed to provide the “guaranteed” number of substitute teachers for the district, resulting in a chaos of vacancies. Hite last month said his patience had run out. … The multiyear contract won’t be canceled, even though Source4Teachers has yet to meet its “guaranteed” fill rate of 75 percent on the first day of school. Monday’s fill rate was 27 percent and Tuesday’s was 31 percent, higher than the 11-to-12-percent average during the first week of school.

County rejects Claremont privatization pitches

Source: Zack Hoopes, The Sentinel, April 25, 2016

The county’s quasi-controversial interest in further privatization at the Claremont Nursing and Rehabilitation Center appears to have come to a halt. The Cumberland County Commissioners voted unanimously yesterday to reject all offers received from vendors to completely take over the food, housekeeping, and laundry departments at the county-owned nursing home. After reviewing the bids received last month, county staff recommended to the commission that none of the offers were worth it. … In February, the commissioners had voted to issue a bid solicitation for vendors to run Claremont’s auxiliary functions. Currently, an outside management company – Sodexo – is responsible for the cash flow. But the 75 workers in the food, laundry, and housekeeping services are county employees. If the county were to go through with it, the proposal would have had those jobs become private-sector.

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County to get proposals on privatization of some nursing home functions
Source: Zack Hoopes, The Sentinel, February 1, 2016

Cumberland County has committed to at least testing the waters a bit when it comes to further outsourcing at the Claremont Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The county’s’ Board of Commissioners voted two-to-one Monday to issue a request for proposals for an outside contractor to completely take over the food, housekeeping, and laundry departments at the county-owned nursing home. … Approximately 75 employees would be affected if the county were to move forward with such a proposal, which would not directly impact nurses or any other medical staff. Bids are due back March 10, with Sodexo or any other qualified company able to make a pitch. … The 65-page bid specification the county issued lays out, in detail, how the outside vendor would be required to maintain the current levels of quality and service. It also specifies that employees bound by collective bargaining agreements are to keep their jobs – the 75 employees in the food, housekeeping, and laundry operations are unionized.