The Montgomery County Commissioners have unanimously adopted a $409.6 million budget for 2013 that makes the first contribution to the county’s pension fund, begins to rebuild the county’s reserve fund, and does it without raising taxes.
The budget projects $412.2 million in revenues in 2013 and reserves $2.5 million for replenishing the county’s Fund Balance, which had shrunk from nearly $100 million to $20 million during the four years of the previous administration.
“This is an honest and transparent budget,” said Josh Shapiro, chairman of the board of commissioners. “This budget reflects the need to repair errors of commission and omission by prior administrations as well as absorbing state cuts to human services and continuing to grapple with the effects of the national recession.”
Vice Chair Leslie Richards praised the work of Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson and said the new budget ensures that the county’s reserve fund will not be used to pay county expenses.
“It is a tough budget,” Richards said. “It is a responsible budget. It is a transparent budget. We will continue to help others find other avenues for funding that we are unable to provide because it is not in the core responsibilities of what the county has to do.”
Commissioner Bruce L. Castor, Jr. called the budget “mean and lean.” He continued saying, “this budget gives us a base upon which to build and return Montgomery County back to its previous fiscal position.”
One of the most discussed sections of the budget involved the elimination of earmarks to 20 agencies in the county, several of which provide social services to residents.
“In order to protect the vital services that this county provides, we eliminated all earmarks from this budget,” Shapiro said. “While these earmarks supported many worthwhile organizations, legitimate questions were raised about the legality of these payments. Upon researching this issue, it became clear that the commissioners are not authorized to make these kinds of appropriations under the Second Class County Code, and that such transfers of taxpayer dollars are further prohibited by provisions of the Pennsylvania State Constitution.”
Shapiro said the law authorizes the county to enter into formal contracts with these organizations, to deliver those services and programs that the county would otherwise provide.
“This is in keeping with what I and the other commissioners have said since we began this budget process – that the county must focus its limited resources on providing the core services of government,” Shapiro said. “That is why we have worked closely with several of these organizations over the past few weeks to do just that.”
“Through these contractual arrangements, the county will be positioned to provide these vitally important services in a more targeted, constructive, and transparent manner, all while operating within the framework of the laws of our Commonwealth.”
Shapiro detailed six other highlights of the budget.
He also reiterated that the budget adopted was in many ways dictated by the “mess” that the previous administration created, including:” a $10 million budget shortfall that necessitated immediate cuts; county government buildings that were crumbling and will take at least $50 million to fix; an emergency radio system that will require at least $45 million to upgrade; and the need to borrow money our first month in office just to make the initial payrolls and pay operating expenses.
“If we fail to make these tough choices now, we will simply perpetuate a broken system that costs taxpayers more while giving them less,” Shapiro said. “In other words, these cuts are necessary in order to meet the County’s core responsibilities to our constituents. Notwithstanding the challenges, let me be clear—we are moving in the right direction. We effectively managed the short-term crises and now with this budget we establish a positive, long-term path forward for our county.”
Help for agencies
The following is a list of contracts approved by the commissioners with agencies that lost their earmarks in the new budget:
• A contract, not to exceed $200,000, with Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania for assistance with housing-related legal matters
• A contract, not exceed $70,000, with Legal Aid for case coverage assigned by the courts to represent lower income parents in Juvenile Court and Parental Terminations in Orphans/Juvenile Court
• A contract with Montgomery County Child Advocacy Project (MCAP), not to exceed $20,000 for case coverage assigned by courts for child advocacy
• A contract with the Women’s Center of Montgomery County, not to exceed $10,000, for assistance with Protection from Abuse Orders.
–Source: Montgomery County
Elwood Rucker, affectionately known as “Woody,” “El” or “Pop”, passed away on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 at Vitas Hospice. He was 84.
Born on September 3, 1928, he was the eldest of two children born to the late Mozell Rucker in King William County, Virginia.
After obtaining his early education in Virginia, he migrated to Philadelphia, where he attended Bok Vocational School. Elwood joined the United States Army and served in the Korean War.
Upon his honorable discharge, he was employed by the Philadelphia International Airport for 12 years and the City of Philadelphia, Department of Streets for 33 years. He was devoted to his family and community. Elwood was the caregiver for his mother and aunts in their senior years.
As a resident of West Philadelphia and South Philadelphia, he served as block captain for several decades. Although he lived most of his adult life in Philadelphia, he never forgot his Virginia roots.
He was a lifelong member of Providence Baptist Church in Aylett, Va. and he faithfully attended revivals and homecoming services.
Preceded in death by his mother, Mozell, Aunt Mattie Trent and a host of other aunts, uncles and cousins, he is survived by his friend, caretaker and wife, Doris Rucker of Philadelphia; a sister, Jeanne Watson, of St. Paul, Minn.; two children from a previous union, son, Anthony Rucker (Tina) of Mercerville, N.J.; daughter, Gina Ray of Philadelphia; and two grandsons, Anthony David Vail of Hartford, Conn. and Lamar Ray of Philadelphia. Additionally, he is survived by a loving extended family including many brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of friends.
A viewing will be held Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Slater Funeral Home, 1426 Fitzwater St. A homegoing service will be held on Dec.15 at 3 p.m. at Providence Baptist Church, 4570 Dorrell Road., Aylett, Va. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to The Provident Baptist Church Building Fund and Missionary, 4570 Dorrell Road, Aylett, VA 23009.
A 32-year old unidentified male was shot Monday at 8:55 a.m. in the 4900 block of Wayne Avenue in the city’s Germantown section. He was taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 9:13 a.m. His name is being withheld pending notification of kin. No arrests have been made.
Corey Morton, 27, was shot in the chest Dec. 9 at 2:18 a.m. in the 2600 block of Stanley Street in Strawberry Mansion. He was taken to Temple University Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 2:37 a.m. Police say the shooting followed an argument. No arrests have been made.
An unidentified 25-year old male was shot to death on Dec. 8 at 12:39 a.m. in the Easy Corner Bar, in the 500 block of North 35th Street in West Philadelphia. Police would not release his identity pending notification of next of kin. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the neck and torso. He was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and pronounced dead at 1:49 a.m. Police say an argument preceded the shooting. No arrests have been made.
Police are searching for a burglary suspect in Germantown. On Dec. 7 at 12:20 a.m. an unknown male was captured on surveillance video at a Giant Dollar Store at 35 E. Chelten Ave., after entering through the roof. Once inside, he took money from several cash registers and a rear office. He fled fter taking $5,400 in cash. The suspect is described as a Black male, 20 to 30 years of age, with a shaved head, possible goatee, medium build, and wearing a hooded sweatshirt and jeans.
A video of the suspect can be viewed on the Philadelphia Police’s Youube channel or http://www.phillypolice.com/news.
To submit a tip on the suspect call (215) 686-8377.
Dorothy Quick Caldwell was a member of the Teamsters Union.
Caldwell died Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. She was 87.
She was born in Florence, S.C. on June 14, 1925. She and her family moved to Philadelphia when she was an infant. Caldwell, a longtime resident of West Philadelphia, was baptized at Mount Olivet Tabernacle Baptist Church.
Her family said she was a good student who was always diligent in her studies. She attended both Martha Washington Elementary and Sulzberger Junior High School. In 1944, she graduated from West Philadelphia High School.
She married Robert Caldwell in 1946.
Her family said she was an industrious, hard-working, independent woman. She started working during World War II for the federal government in Newark, N.J. She later became a member of the Teamsters Union. In 1994, she retired from the Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital.
“Dot, as she was affectionately called, was a jack-of-all-trades and took tremendous pride in her home and neighborhood,” her family said.
“She especially loved taking care of her family, her home and her garden.”
She is survived by her daughter, Aleese Chorice; son-in-law, Ronald; granddaughter, Joy Carpenter and husband Darron; granddaughter, Leah Ruffin and great-grandsons, Darron Jr., Devin and William.
Services will be held Dec. 8 at Terry Funeral Home, 4203 Haverford Ave. Viewing is at 9 a.m. Services will follow at 11 a.m.
Nutter leads delegation to Tianjin, China
The City of Brotherly Love has another sister, another sister city that is — Tianjin, China — after Mayors Michael Nutter and Huang Xingguo this week signed a memorandum of understanding uniting the two cities in an effort to encourage cooperative trade, education and personnel development.
“Establishing new ties and bolstering existing relationships are important steps for Philadelphia’s economic development,” Nutter said in a statement. “By working with our partners in China, especially in Tianjin, and sharing best practices and experiences, both sides can continue to develop and grow. I look forward to these relationships continuing in the future and am excited to see what results they will yield.”
The mayor has been in China all week in an effort to strengthen ties with the economic giant.
Announced Tuesday, the memorandum encourages trade development and education cooperation as well as promoting the “Sister City Fellowship Program,” which will focus on personnel development between the two cities.
The city was not the only local organization to participate in the effort to strengthen ties between the two cities. The Fox Chase Cancer Center, Drexel University, the law firm of White and Williams and the Philadelphia Orchestra also signed agreements with partner institutions in Tianjin.
Fox Chase Cancer Center signed an agreement with the Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute to establish a sister-hospital relationship to further develop oncology expertise in Tianjin and throughout China. Some of the focuses of this new agreement will include aligning Tianjin with world-class Western cancer care, training Tianjin students, fellows, interns and nurses at Fox Chase as well as establishing and expanding clinical trials programs in Tianjin.
“These kind of sister-hospital relationships, which align the skills and resources of cancer research, diagnosis and treatment resident at Fox Chase with the extraordinary growth of cancer treatment and diagnostic requirements in China and other nations, help us expand our Center’s mission of prevailing over cancer internationally,” said Kurt Schwinghammer, Ph.D., Vice President of Research & Development Alliances at Fox Chase and Head of Fox Chase International.
Drexel University and Nankai University, located in Tianjin, agreed to “to promote the advancement of scholarship, innovation, and learning through student and faculty exchange, research, joint publication, and service.”
The universities will collaborate on and exchange materials related to research and education, jointly participate in conferences and engage students and faculty in education and community service.
“Urban universities, such as Drexel and Nankai, are critical drivers of innovation and economic growth as well as key partners in building and strengthening the local and global nexus of collaboration” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “Drexel is very proud to be a part of Mayor Nutter’s delegation to Tianjin and to make our growing partnership with Nankai University a part of Philadelphia’s Sister City Program.”
White and Williams, LLP reaffirmed an already existing with the Winners Law Firm. The firms signed a restated strategic alliance.
The original alliance was signed in Philadelphia in February and witnessed by Mayor Nutter. The new agreement expands the focus of cooperation in the areas of clean-technology, including the further development of commercial protocols for the protection of intellectual property jointly developed between U.S. and China companies and institutions.
“The law firm of White and Williams is honored to be included in this historic event. Our long-standing relationship with the City of Tianjin is far-reaching and expands upon the Strategic Alliance we entered into with the Winners Law Firm in February of this year, which Mayor Nutter graciously hosted at City Hall. We look forward to growing these relationships with Philadelphia’s Sister City of Tianjin and with the businesses and institutions represented in both cities,” said Gary P. Biehn, chair of the firm’s Business Department for the China Business Group and International Group.
The Philadelphia Orchestra, which has a long history with China, will continue to explore ways to work together in the future with the city of Tianjin and the Tianjin Grand Theater, where The Philadelphia Orchestra made its Sister City debut in 2012.
“The City of Tianjin was incredibly hospitable and gracious during our visit last spring. In particular, it was a great pleasure to meet with Tianjin Mayor Huang and Tianjin Grand Theater President Qian Cheng. We look forward to the flowering of our future relationship with Philadelphia’s Sister City,” said Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore.