Friday, June 29, 2007

Mount Penn, Lower Alsace homeowners face another big tax increase

The Antietam School Board voted 7-2 this week to approve its 2007-08 budget of $13.2 million.

That's a $665,000 increase over the current year's budget of $12.5 million.

The School Board also voted 7-2 to raise property taxes for district residents by 5.3 percent to blance the 2007-08 budget.

Antietam, which covers Mount Penn and Lower Alsace, has the highest school property tax rate in Berks County at 30.80 mills.

That means that a homeowner whose property is assessed at $100,000 will pay $3,080 in school property taxes. Your bill will be coming in July.

You can thank the seven members of the current school board for the tax hike, but let's not forget Gov. Ed Rendell, who has promised to lower property taxes for five years in a row, but still hasn't delivered 1 cent in property tax relief to homeowners.

And let's not forget state Sen. Michael A. O'Pake and state Rep. Dante Santoni. Both of these career politicians have been promising for decades to do something about property taxes. We're still waiting.

Keep in mind that both O'Pake and Santoni will seek re-election in 2008. They have failed taxpayers repeatedly. It's time to end the status quo in Harrisburg and elect people who will fight for taxpayers, not line their own pockets and ignore the wishes of the people.

Unlike the residents of Mount Penn and Lower Alsace who have to struggle to pay their property taxes, O'Pake and Santoni gave themselves automatic annual pay raises (unless the Legislature votes to turn the money down). That hasn't happened yet.

The only members of the Antietam School Board who sided with taxpayers are John Fielding and Lisa Iezzi. Both voted against the budget and against the tax increase.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Antietam High School Class of 2007

Congratulations to the Antietam High School Class of 2007.

Seniors received their diplomas during commencement exercises held at the high school on June 8. Greta Martikainen-Watcke, daughter of Thomas C. Watcke and Rebecca J. Martikainen, Lower Alsace, was valedictorian. Elizabeth A. Gettis, daughter of Mark A. Sr. and Kimberly A. Gettis, Lower Alsace, was salutatorian.

The Class of 2007 (listed in alphabetical order):

Andrea C. Allen
Alison M. Babbitt
Ian J. Bertolet
Kameron K. Biehl
Xavier J. Bolonski
Kevin G. Burk
Ian J. Burke
Alan C. Burkhart
Kaitlin O. Byerly
Jordan L. Cardinal
Kamil Chilashvili
Sean K. Crossley*
Gabriel A. Cuesta
Alexander D.W. Diaz-Cruz
Linsey A. Emes
Steven D. Farrara*
Andrew A. Fisher
Colleen L. Flemming
Elie R. Gabriel
Tyler G. Galczynski
James R. Gehringer
Elizabeth A. Gettis*
Johanna R. Goad
Danielle L. Goodwin
Gabrielle M. Goodwin
Joshua O. Hassler
Lauren J. Haufler*
Phillip A. Hinks
Crystal A. Hornberger
Walter P. Hummel II
Megan E. Hums*
Natalie E. Jaskiewicz
Abigail R. Kaminski*
Esther E. Kasprowicz
Scott S. Kiedeisch*
Adam T. Kozlowski
Eric M. Kriebel
Michael J. LaScala
Steve E. Le
Jamieson M. Lee
Mark L. Luckenbill*
Alexandra G. Lupia
Annika I.A. Lutz
Alexandria M. Maier
Greta Martikainen-Watcke
Cori J. Merklinger
Axel Q. Miller
Timothy W. Miller
Amanda M. Moody
Jessica L. Morrone
Alexander R. Perfect
Jessica D. Ploumis
Amanda M. Pritz
Christopher A. Reed
Alex T. Reifsnyder
Amber R. Reynolds*
Jaydee E. Rivera
Jennifer M. Rivera
Krystalina J. Rodriguez
Stephanie M. Santos
Lauren M. Schell
Courtney M. Schmittinger
Eric S. Shank
Michael T. Stephenson Jr.
Joseph M. Stoltz
Natalie A. Stout
Shannon L. Stout
Jessica R. Sweitzer
Pamela N. Swope*
Samantha A. Swope
Matthew A. Taft
Arsenio J. Tavarez*
Shawn M. Troxel
Willis V. Wheeler IV
Rebecca L. Wilson*
Jamie L. Withers
Emmy R. Wolf*
Sha-Nisa O. Wrisby
Meredith C. Yachnik
Danielle F. Young

*National Honor Society

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Berks GOP elects new chairman

The Berks County Republican Party has a new leader.

Mark M. Gillen of Mohnton was unanimously elected party chairman by the county Republican Committee.

All I can say is that it's about time. I have nothing against the previous chairman, Ron Stanko, but you can't do the job of county party chairman, hold down a full-time job and run for elected office at the same time. (Stanko is running for Berks County Judge against Tim Rowley.)

Congratulations to Mark Gillen. The party has a lot work ahead of it as Democrats have been making inroads in county government in recent years. And what have the Democrats brought us? Higher taxes, rising crime and deteriorating quality of life for Berks County residents.

Priority No. 1 is to take back majority control of the Berks County Commissioners. The party has two good candidates in Mark Scott and Christian Leinbach. Another important race is for Recorder of Deeds where John Fielding will attempt to keep the post in GOP hands this November.

After the fall election, Gillen better get moving to reorganize grassroots workers and bring some new blood into the party. No disrespect to folks who have spent decades working on behalf of the party, but take a look around at a Republican Committee meeting and you see a lot of white and gray hairs.

The party has not done a good job of bringing younger members in or getting them involved in the party. Some of the old-timers have to take younger members under their wing if they want the party to have a future.

The election of Gillen, who is 51, is a step in the right direction.

The party needs to be energized for 2008, a presidential election year.

The party also needs to find good candidates to challenge Sen. Mike O'Pake and state Reps. Tom Caltagirone, Dante Santoni, David Kessler and Tim Seip.

Kessler is the "accidental candidate" who won Dennis Leh's seat in eastern Berks. The phony reformer can be beaten in 2008 with a decent candidate from the 130th District.

As for the three Democratic dinosaurs, O'Pake, Caltagirone and Santoni have spent a combined 90 years collecting hefty paychecks from taxpayers and have failed to deliver on their No. 1 promise: Property tax relief to Berks County residents. It's time for a change.

Read more about him from this article in the Reading paper:

And Mr. Gillen, can you find somebody in Berks County who knows something about computers and get a Web site going for the county party. It's 2007 and the party acts like it's 1955.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Phyrillas a hit on PCN

The early reviews are in on the "Journalists Roundtable" program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network. The show featured yours truly, Nancy March, editor of The Mercury, and Nick Lawrence of WPAZ 1370 AM.

Here's what viewers are saying so far:

Mr. Phyrillas:
Watched you, Nancy March, and Nick Lawrence on TV last evening. Very nice. I thought you and Ms. March had an outstanding command of facts and figures, and did a fine job of making points and offering concrete solutions to our state's problems. We made mention of your TV appearance at the Seniors' Center Current Events Discussion Group meeting yesterday, so I am pretty sure you had some of our people tune in.

Again, I enjoyed watching you last evening.

Roy Cubbler

I learned much from the PCN show. Thanks. Loved the "Analysis Paralysis" comment.
$500 mil surplus, will it go to property tax relief? If not, why not? We ought to get a tax rebate.

Stan Lilienthal

Hi Tony,
I thought you and Nancy did a great job tonight. Thank You both for thinking about the PFPF like we all do, hopefully some of the legislators will listen and get the message. Thanks again.

Joan & Floyd Falcone
Taxpayers of Brandywine

Nancy and Tony,
There's a lot I could say but I'll keep it simple.
You both did a great job on Journalist's Roundtable! Everything that you (and Nick) said will help to support our efforts. Thank you very much.

David Baldinger
Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition

As a member of the PCTA I and many others appreciated your honest efforts to make Pennsylvania a greater state .....

A H Norek

Thanks Tony
Your public support for The Plan For Pennsylvania's Future is a great example of the power of the press and how the local community can work hand in hand. I only wish you had wider circulation.
Keep up the good work.

Ken Heffner
Fleetwood, PA

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Catch Tony Phyrillas on TV

The wait is almost over. In just a matter of hours, you can see Tony Phyrillas on the popular "Journalists Roundtable" program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

The one-hour program with host Bill Bova debuts tonight at 8. The program will be shown again Sunday, June 10, at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Panelists will be Nancy March, editor of The Mercury, Nick Lawrence of WPAZ 1370 AM radio and Tony Phyrillas, city editor and political columnist for The Mercury.

Among the topics kicked around on tonight's program: The demise of Act 1; clueless politicians; school funding; the future of property tax relief; and excessive state spending.

(PCN is shown on Comcast Channel 75 in the Pottstown area, Comcast Channel 98 in Berks County and Service Electric Cable Channel 23 in Berks/Lehigh counties)