Pottstown is a compact town of 22,000 along the Schuylkill River in southeastern Pennsylvania, about 35 miles northwest of Philadelphia. It is lovely and historic, with tree-lined streets and a distinctive downtown
Although the town is not as financially healthy as it once was, it has the potential to become one of the most livable communities in Pennsylvania. Pottstown Citizens seeks ways we can best manage our resources for the common good.
The following essays have recently appeared as paid advertisements in the Pottstown Mercury:
Employer, employee listings for 2022
Each year for the last seven years, we’ve published a list of Pottstown’s top 25 employers.
PAED’s role grows in Pottstown
The closures of Bethlehem Steel and Firestone cost the borough more than 3,000 good-paying jobs, and Pottstown began the difficult transition from a manufacturing powerhouse into an agglomeration of small, widely diverse industries.
Foundation boosts college-bound
Twelve of the students who will graduate from Pottstown High School next week have a head start on college, paid in part or in full by the Foundation for Pottstown Education.
Let’s cut the real estate tax
With the seventh highest tax effort in Pennsylvania, and a whopping $25 million fund balance, the district can and should start cutting the real estate tax.
Before “fair funding” — “costing-out”
Long before “fair funding,” the Pennsylvania legislature had already adopted a formula based on the same factors, called “costing-out.”
While the Pottstown School District is in excellent shape, the borough is not. It does not receive generous state subsidies, even though it has the same demographics as the school district.
Education spending perspective
As measured on a global scale, a national scale, or a state scale, Pottstown is spending more per pupil than the vast majority of public schools anywhere.
Pottstown school spending skyrockets
The Pottstown School Board last month passed a preliminary 2023-2024 budget that raises spending 16 percent over the current school year.
Our wealth in perspective
Is there ever enough?
“In America I have seen the freest and best educated of men in circumstances the happiest to be found in the world; yet it seemed to me that a cloud habitually hung on their brow, and they seemed serious and almost sad in their pleasures,” because they “never stop thinking of the good things they have not got.”
Tax subsidies help wealthy homeowners
There are lots of ways the government subsidizes the wealthy. The home mortgage deduction not only helps the rich, but it also helps isolate the poor in older communities.
Should tax payments be public?
Government at all levels requires money to operate, and every citizen is expected to pay his fair share. Income taxes are a major revenue source for both states and the federal government, so why shouldn’t individual payments be made public?
It’s not going to stay this way
There are nearly 8 billion people on the planet, and they all want the same high quality lifestyles people in the developed world enjoy.
America’s income inequality
The distribution of wealth in America is even more unequal than the worldwide distribution of wealth. The richest 20 percent of Americans own 85 percent of the nation’s wealth.
Demographics changing the world
Birth rates are creating a very different world from the one we’ve experienced in recent generations.
Immigration brings change
Last week, the Census Bureau reported the number of immigrants nearly tripled in the nation’s 20 most populous counties from 2021 to 2022, as immigration returned to pre-pandemic levels
Problems of the affluent and the poor
Homelessness has been much in the news. Pottstown’s North End residents have been complaining to Borough Council about a temporary homeless shelter for 30 persons in the basement of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ.
LED lights a small, easy step forward
New state grants totaling more than $1 million were announced this month to pay for replacing all the borough’s street lights with LED bulbs.
This kind of sustainability initiative was easy because it didn’t cost any local dollars and didn’t ask people to accept change.
Homelessness touches North End
Pottstown has numerous churches with excess capacity because their congregations have dwindled as parishioners of means moved to the suburbs in recent decades. Many of these churches have become havens for the poor to receive food, clothing, and other necessities.
Open space, covert decision- making
An engineering firm hired by Upper Pottsgrove Township makes a lucid argument for building a $5.5 million municipal complex on the former Smola farm at Evans and Moyer roads.
Pottstown housing prices higher than ever
Although Pottstown has major problems with vacant storefronts, trash-strewn streets, and homelessness, housing prices are higher than ever.
Wide variety of housing in Pottstown
On Tuesday, we noted that Pottstown housing prices have increased dramatically — more than 70 percent over the last five years.
Excessive compensation stains Tower Health
Quoting a lower court decision, Commonwealth Court stated “[the CEO] and the Board of Tower Health were no more tha[n] corporate health care raiders . ... The goal as evident from the financial documentation offered at trial was simple and direct—drain the juice out of the hospitals until there was nothing left but a dried-out husk and then leave, close the doors, or sell what was left.”
Challenging tax exemptions
The recent Tower Health ruling shows the court’s willingness to rethink which organizations are truly non-profit and which ones have been categorized more by past practices than logic.
In an age of increasing income inequality, why is a poor town expected to subsidize a school with a $188 million endowment and lavish facilities that primarily serves the national and international moneyed class?
Pottstown housing now integrated
Pottstown is one of the most integrated municipalities in Pennsylvania. Pottstown has 20 census blocks, as shown in the map above. The racial demographics of each census block are shown in the chart. It’s clear Pottstown is integrated in all its neighborhoods.
Pottstown area highly segregated
On Tuesday, we published a chart of all 20 census blocks in Pottstown demonstrating that Pottstown is integrated at a neighborhood level. But the Pottstown area, encompassing the borough and its surrounding municipalities, is highly segregated.
Elementary schools desegregate in 1980
In 1978, The Mercury published a 16- page special edition suggesting the district could desegregate its elementary schools and reduce excess classroom capacity by closing Jefferson School and redistricting the remaining schools.
Demographics have dramatically changed
By far the greatest change in the Pottstown School District in the last 50 years has been a dramatic increase in the district’s minority enrollment and in student poverty.
Racial segregation redux, 1963
Nine years after publishing a weeklong series of articles in 1954 about racial discrimination in Pottstown, The Pottstown Mercury ran an even longer series of articles in 1963 about what progress had been made.
Housing strictly segregated in 1963
“Realtors in Pottstown do not talk about segregation and discrimination — except to deny it. But it does exist — sharply, and clearly defined."
Committtee on Human Relations formed
In 1954, following a week-long series of articles in The Pottstown Mercury about racial discrimination in Pottstown, a group of concerned citizens met at a local restaurant to form a Committee on Human Relations.
Although de facto racial inequity was the rule in 1950s Pottstown, there were some notable exceptions. Chief among these was the Corum family.
Mercury confronts segregation in 1954 (2)
BLACK COMMERCIAL graduates of Pottstown High School in the early 1950s. None were sent out for job interviews, but white girls were placed.
Mercury confronts segregation in 1954 (3)
In 1954, ending a week-long series of articles about racial discrimination in Pottstown, The Pottstown Mercury concluded with plea to bring about racial equity in Pottstown.
1954 court ruling leads to Mercury series
One month after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, The Pottstown Mercury published a week-long series of articles about racial segregation in Pottstown.
Mercury confronts segregation in 1954 (1)
Mercury editor Shandy Hill championed racial equality, and he wasn’t afraid of being unpopular. The Mercury series highlighted some uncomfortable truths.
Broadening school district's mission
The Pottstown Public Library would be much more appropriate for the school district to oversee and financially support than the borough.
The library: education for all
Books, videos, internet resources — everything’s available at the public library. You can go on-line from home and browse the entire collection — not just Pottstown’s, but almost everywhere in Pennsylvania
Preserving our natural capital
Natural capital is everything nature provides us for free. It is what our economy is built upon.
Where your local taxes go
Together, Pottstown Borough and the Pottstown School District are set to spend more than $118 million this year.
Thoughts for 2023
Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose.
New epoch in world history
By the 1950s, the world’s humans grew so numerous, and started making so much impact on the planet, that the geologists believe a new epoch is warranted: the Anthropocene.
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