Tri County Report For December 22nd 2016

New Castle City Council is expected to vote on the 2017 budget tonight. According to the New Castle News, the 14.7 million dollar budget calls for a two mill property tax increase. The budget holds the earned income tax rates at 2.1 percent for city residents and two percent for non-residents who work in the city.

Governor Tom Wolf says he is not going to try to raise sales or income taxes in his new budget proposal. Wolf announced yesterday that he will introduce a budget balanced with cuts and steps to make the state government more efficient.  He’s scheduled to release the proposal in early February.

Butler Mayor Tom Donaldson is suing the city.  Donaldson filed the suit, which also names three council members, last week.  The mayor wants two city firefighters’ promotions overturned because they reportedly did not meet the civil service exam requirements.  The three council members named in the suit all voted for the promotions.

Pittsburgh is getting ten-million dollars in gambling taxes from the Rivers Casino.  Mayor Bill Peduto made the announcement yesterday saying the deal ensures there won’t be cuts to police and firefighter recruit classes, parks workers and public works employees.  Casino general manager Craig Clark said, “We’re proud to support our hometown.”

Pennsylvania State Police is adding patrols in Lawerence, Beaver, Mercer and Butler counties this holiday season.  Increased patrols are starting midnight Friday and go until midnight Monday.  Last year, there were nearly 50 crashes during the four days surrounding Christmas.  Nearly ten-percent were alcohol-related, and one resulted in a death.  More than 550 citations were handed out in 2015, including 19 drivers arrested on suspicion of DUI.

It looks like Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is going to run for re-election.  Wolf’s press secretary, Jeff Sheridan, is leaving the post to become the governor’s re-election campaign manager effective January 1st.  Wolf says Sheridan has been an integral part of his team.  Deputy Press Secretary J.J. Abbott will take over for Sheridan.

Pennsylvania health officials said they’ll be accepting applications to grow and distribute medical marijuana, but not from Mercer or Lawrence counties. The medical marijuana program divided the state into six regions. Region 6, where Mercer and Lawrence counties are located, is getting just two dispensary permits. One will go to Erie County and the other will go to McKean County. The closest county getting a permit is Butler County.

State Rep.-elect Aaron Bernstine, has opened a local district office on Line Avenue in Ellwood City.  According to the Ellwood City Ledger, The facility will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with expanded hours on Thursdays until 7pm. The Republican defeated incumbunt Jaret Gibbons in the November general election. The 10th district includes the southern portions of Lawrence County, along with a portion of Beaver County that includes Beaver Falls, and several townships in Butler county.

The Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School is looking for a new board of trustees member.  The school board is accepting applications to fill the seat left vacant by Director Francis Komara of Midland.  He resigned December 1st to spend more time with his family.  Applications will be accepted until January 9th.