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These Scoops are excerpts from articles published in local newspapers and other sources. Please click on the "From" link to access the full original article. Any opinions and "insights" appended to these article summaries are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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Dozen Roads To Be Repaired, Repaved In Falls Twp.

Dozen Roads To Be Repaired, Repaved In Falls Twp. | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The Falls Township Board of Supervisors pushed forward the community’s road repair and repaving program on Monday evening.

 

The Supervisors unanimously voted to advertise the 2020 road improvement plan, which will improve or fully reconstruct a dozen township roads.

 

Also at Monday’s meeting, which took place virtually, the Supervisors agreed to hire Township Engineer Jones Engineering Associates for the 2020 and 2021 road programs. The cost for those services for 2020 and 2021 will be $1.2 million.

 

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Meanwhile Newtown Township will have to cancel its plans to pave more than 5 miles of roads in order to use the money to pay general expenses such as salaries, supplies, etc. Find more details regarding that here: https://bit.ly/3ao87P3 

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Gov. Wolf Signs Senate Bill 841 to Provide Flexibility to Local Governments and Businesses

Gov. Wolf Signs Senate Bill 841 to Provide Flexibility to Local Governments and Businesses | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 841 today that helps local communities and businesses respond to the COVID-19 emergency and protect the public. The bill provides flexibility on property tax deadlines, allows remote public meetings and notarization of documents so online vehicle sales can resume.

 

The bill does the following:

 

  • Reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council and requires it to study the impact of COVID-19 on hospitals and health systems.
  • Allows local governments to conduct remote public meetings.
  • Provides property tax relief by allowing taxing districts to waive late fees and penalties for property taxes paid by December 31, 2020.
  • Allows school districts to renegotiate contracts with service providers to ensure payment of personnel and fixed costs during the school closure.
  • Allows remote notarization of documents.

 

Regarding Remote Public Meetings

 

The bill permits, during the disaster emergency, local government meetings to be held via an “authorized telecommunications device” without having a quorum of the members present in a physical location. “Authorized telecommunications device” includes any device that permits, at a minimum, audio communication among individuals.

 

Advance notice to the public and public participation are required, to the extent practicable. Public notice can be affected via posting notice of each meeting on the Township’s web-site or in an advertisement in a newspaper of general publication, or both. The notice must include the date, time, technology to be used and public participation information. Public participation can occur through an authorized telecommunication device, or written comments submitted through physical mail or to an email account.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Related:

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Newtown Fine Wine & Spirits Open For Curbside Pickup

Newtown Fine Wine & Spirits Open For Curbside Pickup | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Pennsylvania is reopening a number of Bucks County state-owned liquor stores after closing them to the public last month as part of efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Stores will take a limited number of orders by phone from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day, or until it reaches the maximum number of orders it can fulfill that day, Monday through Saturday.

Curbside pickup orders will be limited to one order of no more than six bottles, according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). Only one order will be accepted per caller, per day.

Callers will be guided by store staff through products available to purchase at each location, PLCB said. Payment by credit card will be required by phone, and all curbside pickup sales are final, with no returns.

212 South State Street in Newtown Borough – 215-968-4161

It was not immediately clear how the stores that reopen for curbside pickup were decided.

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“I don’t know how we’ll survive”: Small Businesses Face Hard Road Ahead. What Can Local Government Do To Help?

“I don’t know how we’ll survive”: Small Businesses Face Hard Road Ahead. What Can Local Government Do To Help? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Small businesses are fighting for their survival; while some had to close their doors for good. Business owners are grappling with soaring expenses and prolonged uncertainties, and some are finding relief in heartwarming ways.

 

While Small Business Administration loans through the federal stimulus package may throw some small businesses a much-needed lifeline, until the money starts flowing, owners face a number of tough decisions. Many have ongoing expenses, little or no revenue at all and face the possibility that they may never reopen.

 

******

Some comments from respondents to John Mack’s COVID-19 Business Impact Survey, which asked “What is your most pressing need right now? How can local government help?”:

 

  • “Not sure if I qualify for any assistance as I don't have a payroll.”
  • “I cannot apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) because my independent local bank is not offering it. All other local banks are only offering this service to their current customers.”
  • “I was open for three weeks and was forced to close. Not sure I can rebound after this.”
  • “In order to reopen and remain open, any tax brakes that Newtown Twp can provide its residents, would be direly important.”

 

Here's a summary of responses from Newtown Township business owners: https://bit.ly/COVIDbusSurveyResults

 

TAKE THE SURVEY HERE: https://bit.ly/3aSxWI2

*******

 

While many businesses have shifted to online sales, curbside deliveries and other safe social distancing sales practices, Boster said some struggle with digital marketing efforts to let the public know they are still open in some way for business.

 

Many businesses, unable to generate sales from a brick-and-mortar locations, count on consumers finding them online.

 

Some locals are stepping in to help. In Doylestown, New Hope, Yardley and other communities, volunteers in the community have created guides for takeout eating options, farmer’s markets and other retail business openings.

 

*****

The Patch maintains a useful listing of local Newtown Area businesses that are currently open, open under special conditions, or closed. Included are phone numbers, notes about hours of operation, pickup or delivery options, and suggestions for how to help the business. Find the list here: https://bit.ly/PatchOpenClosedList 

*****

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Factory Donuts Closes Doylestown Shop For Good. Will the Newtown Township Shop Be Next? Is #COVID19 Responsible?

Factory Donuts Closes Doylestown Shop For Good. Will the Newtown Township Shop Be Next? Is #COVID19 Responsible? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Factory Donuts, a made-to-order donut shop with a location in Newtown, is closing its Doylestown store mere months after its debut. The store had been shut in mid-March due to the state shutdowns over the coronavirus pandemic. It will not reopen once restrictions are lifted, Doylestown franchise owner Joseph Cremin said.

 

The announcement was made Thursday. Cremin, in a follow up message to Patch, said as of now there is not a new franchise owner taking over the location at the Cross Keys Shopping Center.

 

"It's with great sadness that we must announce that we will not be reopening our store," the business announced on Facebook.

 

The Doylestown location, which opened in November, was the fourth shop for Factory Donuts.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Although it wasn't mentioned in the original Patch story, this has to be the result of the current COVID-19 downturn in business. Many more local businesses may suffer the same fate before this is over.

 

Related:

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Bucks County Parks To Reopen Monday: Is this a good idea?

Bucks County Parks To Reopen Monday: Is this a good idea? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

As the weather gets nicer and people want to get outside, Bucks County has decided to reopen its parks starting Monday.

The county park system was closed to the public on Monday, March 23 as COVID-19 mitigation efforts ramped up.

“The county parks have been closed for a few weeks now, and that was partly done to keep people safe and our employees safe,” Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie said during a virtual press conference on Thursday.

“We are reminding you to please be smart about using the parks and maintain social distancing,” he added.

Bucks County Rangers will be at county parks to make sure people are being safe.

Commissioner Chairperson Diane Ellis-Marseglia said she didn’t think opening county parks was “a great idea generally,” but the reopening was approved in consultation with several officials. She also noted that taxpayers were requesting it and she appreciated that not everyone has access to green spaces depending on where they live.

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‘Pretty Catastrophic’ Month for Retailers, and Now a Race to Survive

‘Pretty Catastrophic’ Month for Retailers, and Now a Race to Survive | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Retail sales plunged in March, offering a grim snapshot of the coronavirus outbreak’s effect on consumer spending, as businesses shuttered from coast to coast and wary shoppers restricted their spending.

 

Total sales, which include retail purchases in stores and online as well as money spent at bars and restaurants, fell 8.7 percent from the previous month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The decline was by far the largest in the nearly three decades the government has tracked the data.

 

Even that bleak figure doesn’t capture the full impact of the sudden economic freeze on the retail industry. Most states didn’t shut down nonessential businesses until late March or early April, meaning data for the current month could be worse still.

 

The resulting job losses continue to mount. Best Buy, which has 125,000 employees over all, said Wednesday that it would furlough 51,000 hourly store workers beginning Sunday, including nearly all of its part-time staff.

 

And in the months ahead, the question is how quickly spending will bounce back once the economy reopens, and how many businesses will survive until then.

 

People who lose jobs won’t quickly resume spending once businesses reopen. And those willing to spend may be reluctant to congregate in malls, restaurants and other businesses that rely on face-to-face contact.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

COVID-19 will not only have "pretty catastrophic" consequences for businesses, it will also have dire consequences for Newtown Township's financial situation and its ability to provide services (for more on that, read "Rough Road Ahead for Newtown"). 

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PA Governor Wolf - Wearing Mask - Orders Coronavirus Safety Measures At Essential Businesses, Including Wearing Masks!

PA Governor Wolf - Wearing Mask - Orders Coronavirus Safety Measures At Essential Businesses, Including Wearing Masks! | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Governor Tom Wolf on Wednesday [April 15, 2020] announced an order that establishes mandatory safety protections and protocols at businesses currently permitted to be open during the coronavirus crisis.

 

Businesses authorized to stay open, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must now mandate employees wear masks, and must provide those masks for their workers if necessary. Businesses should require all customers wear masks, the order says.

 

All meetings and trainings should be done virtually. "If a meeting must be held in person, limit the meeting to the fewest number of employees possible, not to exceed 10 employees at one time and maintain a social distance of six feet," the order said.

 

If a business discovers there has been an exposure to a person who has COVID-19, temperature screenings are required before employees can enter the business prior to the start of work. Any employee who has an elevated temperature of 100.4 degrees must be sent home and cannot return until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with the health care providers and state and local health departments.

 

In addition to the social distancing, mitigation and cleaning protocols, businesses that serve the public within a building or defined area are ordered to implement the following measures, the order states:

 

  • Require all customers to wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of goods, except individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2 years) may enter the premises without having to provide medical documentation.

 

  • Conduct business with the public by appointment only and, to the extent that this is not feasible, limit occupancy to no greater than 50 percent of the number stated on their certificate of occupancy as necessary to reduce crowding in the business and at check-out and counter lines in order to maintain a social distance of six feet, and place signage throughout each site to mandate social distancing for both customers and employees.

 

  • Install shields or other barriers at registers and check-out areas to physically separate cashiers and customers or take other measures to ensure social distancing of customers from check-out personnel, or close lines to maintain a social distance between of six feet between lines.

 

  • Encourage use of online ordering by providing delivery or outside pick-up.

 

  • Designate a specific time for high-risk and elderly persons to use the business at least once every week if there is a continuing in-person customer-facing component.

 

More…

johnmacknewtown's insight:

What happens when restaurants open? Patrons, no doubt will have to wear masks. Where will we get the proper N95 masks? I've heard that some townships are having problems getting enough masks for first responders! It's in Newtown Township's best interest to get local businesses working normally as quickly as possible. But that's not going to happen without masks! What can Newtown do to procure more masks not only for first responders but also for citizens?

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More Than 2,100 U.S. Cities Brace for Budget Shortfalls Due To COVID-19

More Than 2,100 U.S. Cities Brace for Budget Shortfalls Due To COVID-19 | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

More than 2,100 U.S. cities are anticipating major budget shortfalls this year and many are planning to slash programs and cut staff in response, according to a survey of local officials released Tuesday, illustrating the widespread financial havoc threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The bleak outlook — shared by local governments representing roughly 93 million people nationwide — led some top mayors and other leaders to call for greater federal aid to protect cities now forced to choose between balancing their cash-strapped ledgers and sustaining the public services that residents need most.

 

“There’s no question that the coronavirus pandemic has had, and will have, a major impact on cities of all sizes,” said Clarence Anthony, the executive director of the National League of Cities.

 

Cities and states brace for economic ‘reckoning,’ eyeing major cuts and fearing federal coronavirus aid isn’t enough

 

The NLC joined with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to conduct the early inquiry into the economic effects of the novel coronavirus, finding many local governments are bracing for sharp declines in tax revenue as businesses shutter, workers lose their jobs in record numbers and tourism grinds to a halt.

 

Nearly nine in 10 cities surveyed — from smaller hubs with populations of fewer than 50,000 [including Newtown Township; read “Rough Road Ahead for Newtown”: https://preview.mailerlite.com/j5v4u6 ] to the largest metropolitan areas in the country — signaled they expect a revenue shortfall. Among them, more than 1,100 cities are preparing to scale back public services, the survey found. Almost 600 cities predicted they may have to lay off some government workers amid the crunch. Local leaders in 1,000 cities said the reductions probably would affect their local police departments and other public safety agencies.

 

The findings inject new urgency into a simmering congressional debate over Washington’s role in safeguarding cash-starved cities and states from financial ruin. Local governments generally cannot run deficits, unlike the nation’s capital, leaving them no choice but to slash spending or raise taxes — absent more federal support. On Monday, President Trump signaled more federal aid isn’t out of the question, saying he is “certainly willing to look at that."

 

Lawmakers authorized $150 billion in coronavirus aid for states and large cities as part of the broader $2 trillion package that President Trump signed into law in March. But that assistance — half of which, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Monday, is now available — comes with restrictions. Even when combined with additional help offered by the U.S. government, many leaders outside the nation’s capital also see it as insufficient to keep their cities afloat financially.

 

Meanwhile, the money is funneled through states, with direct federal assistance only available to the largest metropolitan areas, depriving less populous cities of federal dollars as they brace for their own financial struggles. Even Atlanta — a sprawling major Southern city, but one with fewer than 500,000 people as of the last census — may not be eligible to seek federal funds on its own, said Anthony, the NLC’s leader. (A spokesman for Democratic Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms did not respond to a request for comment.)

 

“The reality is that, if a city of 500,000 has challenges, [then] a city of 400,000 and a city of 300,000 and 100,000 has the same challenges,” said Stephen K. Benjamin, the Democratic mayor of Columbia, S.C. He called on Congress to make more aid directly available to more metro areas, predicting his city would face a “precipitous” decline in revenue.

 

Congressional Democrats — led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) — have put forward new legislation that would further enhance the aid to state and local governments in need. But Republicans have fiercely resisted the idea, focusing their attention instead on trying to boost loans available to small businesses. The result is a partisan stalemate between House and Senate leaders now bickering from afar with their chambers out of session.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Including Newtown Township; read “Rough Road Ahead for Newtown”: https://preview.mailerlite.com/j5v4u6 

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Access Every Article I Wrote While a Newtown Township Supervisor

Access Every Article I Wrote While a Newtown Township Supervisor | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

I have created an index to dozens of articles published in Newtown News Update and News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents e-newsletters going back to August 2017. It’s an interesting look back on issues that I have had to deal with as a Newtown Township Supervisor.

 

Articles are arranged by topic:

 

  • Communications
  • Development
  • Discrimination
  • Drugs & Opioid Epidemic
  • Environment
  • Finances
  • Governance
  • Infrastructure
  • Miscellaneous
  • Public Health & Safety
  • Quality of Life
  • Traffic & Parking
  • Zoning

 

Go to the index…

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Next...the book!

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PA Faces Up To $3.7 Billion in Lost Revenue Due to #COVID-19

PA Faces Up To $3.7 Billion in Lost Revenue Due to #COVID-19 | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The coronavirus outbreak could cost Pennsylvania $2.7 billion in lost tax revenue over the next 15 months, blowing a serious hole in the state budget, according to a report released Wednesday by the state's Independent Fiscal Office.

And that's the best case scenario, assuming that businesses can reopen by April 27. If the statewide shutdown has to remain in place for another six weeks, the office estimates, the state would be facing a financial hit of $3.7 billion in lost revenues.

Roughly 20% of all of the state's workers have been temporarily laid off, he said. The resulting deluge of unemployment claims could cost the state between $4.5 billion and $6 billion by the end of the next fiscal year, the report found.

"This is a 10 to 12% drop in revenue capacity, and accommodating this within our recurring spending commitments is an enormous challenge," said Sen. Pat Browne (R., Lehigh), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"This gives us at least a snapshot of something to look at, but we'll need to see more in terms of actual results before we can make decisions on recurring budget obligations."

Adding to the uncertainty ... is that it's not clear how quickly businesses could return to normal even once the shutdown order is lifted. People may hesitate to congregate in shops and restaurants again, and they might cut back on spending amid a national economic downturn.

Pennsylvania is heading into the economic downturn with scant reserves, even after large deposits into the rainy day fund last year. The state has enough saved to cover just three and a half days of operating expenses, the treasurer's office estimated at the time.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

The state has "scant" reserves. Newtown Twp as well has scant reserves & faces big loses in earned income taxes, which account for 60% of its tax revenue income. Read, for example, "Trends in Newtown’s “Volatile” Earned Income and Property Transfer Taxes"; https://bit.ly/2y8zSOc 

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Rough Road Ahead for Newtown Township

Rough Road Ahead for Newtown Township | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.” These are indeed extraordinary times with many businesses forced to close and millions of people out of work due the measures necessary to contain the Coronavirus pandemic. And municipalities like Newtown Township that depend upon business and job related taxes face financial difficulties if the shutdown continues and people do not get their jobs back.

 

It is unknown to what degree the COVID-19 shutdown will affect the Township's finances. Obviously, Earned Income Tax (EIT) will likely take a hit due to the temporary or permanent closure of businesses. Real Estate Transfer Tax will also likely be, or become, compromised as people brace for a potential financial impact.

 

In addition, charges for public safety (permits) may decline if building and construction drop off, and the township's Parks & Recreation programming revenue stream may be significantly less if the township has to cancel summer camps.

 

Given the fact that the Township heavily depends upon tax revenue from local businesses and the employees they hire, the closure of these businesses and the subsequent employee unemployment may have a big impact on the township’s financial health, delay major public improvement projects, and may even lead to a negative general fund cash balance.

 

To prevent that, as a Newtown Township Supervisor, I will continue to be called upon to make critical decisions in the coming weeks in response to this situation in order to maintain essential services.

 

Consequently, it is important that I get feedback from local businesses and employees that have been impacted by COVID-19 to help me determine the likely worst-case scenario and make informed decisions to prevent that.

 

To get that feedback, I am hosting two COVID-19 Impact Surveys – one for local business owners and one for local residents/employees.

 

If you are a business owner, please take my COVID-19 BUSINESS Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D7CVTJ2  

 

If you are/were employed by a Newtown Township business, please take my COVID-19 EMPLOYEE Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D7CVTJ2

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Representative Perry Warren Urged to "Push Back" 37% BCWSA Rate Increase During COVID-19 Crisis

Representative Perry Warren Urged to "Push Back" 37% BCWSA Rate Increase During COVID-19 Crisis | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

[BCWSA (Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority) is one of the largest water and sewer authorities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania providing water and sewer services to more than 100,000 households, business accounts, and some 525,000 people in the southeastern Pennsylvania region.]

 

Linda on Nextdoor posted:

"I just received my sewage/water bill and it has increased by 37%. I called their office and they said yes the increase was because they are upgrading some things. This is outrageous and price gouging. Since we have no other choice to go elsewhere. I am paying just as much as my neighbors who have multiple people living in their house. So unfair. I contacted our local rep to ask why. I think you guys should do the same. Maybe if he gets enough complaints he will take action against them. Our rep is Perry Warren. If you Google him you can come up to his website and send him an email. Please do."

Kelly & Joan Curran, Langhorne Gardens...

I just emailed the following, hope something can be done�

Hi Mr. Warren,
I am concerned and quite upset to hear that our water sewer bill is increasing so drastically. As we know, this covid crisis is already having an alarming negative affect on job security, unemployment rates, decreases in retirement funds making retirement for those ready to do unreachable, as well as many other financial changes being made that has lead to incredible financial instability for most during this sad scary and difficult time; not to mention the emotional turmoil so many are experiencing considering worry, fear of getting ill, having loved ones hospitalized or even dying and not being able to grieve the way we're used to (surrounded by those that make up our support system), or be there with their family members when it's needed most. Mr. Perry at a time like this, is such an upgrade really needed for BCWSA that badly, and if so why can't more be done to offset the financial burden it is adding to for all who already are struggling so much to stay above water as it is with all that is going on around us. Please strongly consider pushing these upgrades back, the timing for them couldn't be more wrong, and if that is not possible than at least consider pushing the increase in rates on our people off until things are more settled so that is is not so very devastating for us all to have to absorb such an increase at an already unstable and catastrophic time. Thank you for your time and efforts,
Kelly Curran

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State Rep. Perry Warren Introduces Bill to Prevent Certain Hoarders from Profiting Off Vulnerable People

State Rep. Perry Warren Introduces Bill to Prevent Certain Hoarders from Profiting Off Vulnerable People | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, has introduced legislation that would discourage hoarding by limiting the return of grocery items during the current state of emergency declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“People have come together in a profound spirit of generosity and community during this time of crisis. Still, shortages of certain products have been reported, and this bill would discourage those who might try to make money off of a vulnerable population’s need for basic necessities by hoarding and selling them at exorbitant prices—products ranging from toilet paper and cleaning items to baby formula and diapers.”

 

According to Warren, hoarders could buy up products while “hedging their investment” by returning unsold items to the store for a refund or credit if the shortage abates or when the crisis ends.

 

Warren’s bill seeks to protect residents from shortages of basic necessities, and prevent the return and possible resale of items that could carry the COVID-19 virus on their surfaces.

 

“The resale of returned items that could carry COVID-19 puts both grocery store workers and consumers at risk of being exposed to the virus,” Warren said. Warren noted that similar legislation has passed in the New Jersey General Assembly.

 

The legislation would give grocery stores the sole discretion of accepting returned items that may have been unsafe or otherwise defective at the time of sale. Those items would not be eligible for resale.

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PA Unemployment Claims Hit a Record 834,000! Overwhelms Department of Labor & Industry's Website.

PA Unemployment Claims Hit a Record 834,000! Overwhelms Department of Labor & Industry's Website. | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Following the state-ordered closure of businesses to stem the tide of the coronavirus, a record number of Pennsylvanians have filed new unemployment claims over the last two weeks.

 

As of Monday afternoon, the Department of Labor and Industry had received 834,684 new unemployment claims since March 16, when Gov. Tom Wolf announced the closure of all nonessential businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 

"That eclipses anything we've experienced for a weekly total, or even a yearly total," Jerry Oleksiak, Department of Labor and Industry secretary, said during a media call Monday.

 

"This is a fluid, evolving, unprecedented crisis situation that we are facing," he said.

 

*****COVID-19 Employee Survey*****

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PWWQQGP 

 

How have you been impacted by COVID-19?

 

As a Newtown Township Supervisor I expect that I will be called upon to make critical decisions in the coming weeks in response to the financial impact on Newtown Township and citizens of the Coronavirus pandemic and the emergency mitigation measures currently in place. Consequently, it is important that I get feedback from local employees that have been impacted by COVID-19.

The survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete. No identifying information is collected via this survey unless you opt-in to provide such information for purposes of follow-up or by subscribing to my email newsletter.

 

NOTE: If you are an EMPLOYER, please take my COVID-19 Business Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D7CVTJ2

 

***********************************

 

 The total jumped nearly 300,000 from March 24, when the Department of Labor and Industry had received 540,000 new unemployment claims in the first week of Wolf's planned closure.

 

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the highest number of first-time claims ever filed in Pennsylvania was 168,200, but that was for the entire month of January 2010.

 

The surge in claims due to COVID-19 caused intermittent failures on the Department of Labor & Industry's website Sunday and Monday along with longer wait times over the phone in recent weeks. Officials urged those affected to be patient and to file online if possible to avoid wait times over the phone.

 

"Don't get discouraged. Continue to be patient and continue to apply," Oleksiak said. "We want to help you. We want to help people that are in these difficult situations."

 

Pennsylvania ― which Wolf last week said was the "epicenter of the unemployment crisis" with more than 3.3 million claims nationwide ― has likely seen more filers because the state does not have mandatory sick or family leave requirements like other large states, Oleksiak said.

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COVID-19 Employee Impact Survey

COVID-19 Employee Impact Survey | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

How have YOU been impacted by COVID-19?


As a Newtown Township Supervisor I expect that I will be called upon to make critical decisions in the coming weeks in response to a possible dire financial impact on Newtown Township due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the emergency mitigation measures currently in place. Consequently, it is important that I get feedback from local employees and businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19.

 

TAKE THE SURVEY HERE: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6HTHQML

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Newtown Police Operating “Routinely” During COVID-19 Restrictions

Newtown Police Operating “Routinely” During COVID-19 Restrictions | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

According to the latest Newtown Township Press Release, the Newtown Township Police Department is operating “routinely” during the current coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully certain precautions are being taken to protect police officers who interact with the public on a daily basis.

 

The March 20-26, 2020, weekly call report from the Newtown Police Dept shows that officers responded to 261 calls for service versus an average of 364 per week from 9 Jan 2020 through 12 Mar 2020 – a drop of 28%. As noted in the report this is due to “COVID-19 restrictions” mostly regarding traffic citations.

 

I noticed two interesting items in the latest weekly call report that I have not seen before:

 

  • 12 Foot Patrol Reports, and
  • 0 Traffic Citations!

 

What's up with that? More...

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Latest Update on Impact of Coronavirus on Newtown Township 

Latest Update on Impact of Coronavirus on Newtown Township  | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The coronavirus outbreak in Pennsylvania and across the nation continues to have vast impacts in Newtown, including the closure of schools and many businesses.

 

As of Monday, there are 249 positive cases of coronavirus in Bucks County, including confirmed cases in Newtown Township and Newtown Borough. There are more than 4,000 cases in Pennsylvania as of Monday, and 48 people have died as a result of COVID-19.

 

Newtown Township is offering only essential services during the Stay at Home order. [Read “Newtown Police Operating “Routinely” During COVID-19 Restrictions”; http://sco.lt/4nZq6K]

 

The closure of all non-essential businesses in Pennsylvania has been extended "indefinitely," the governor said Monday.

 

Harvest in Newtown, which had been offering take out, has closed. It will reopen following the coronavirus restrictions. "Please remember the people in the hospitality industry are emotionally and financially struggling right now. It is a very real mourning process as their worlds are turned upside down with no clear date on when the lights will be turned back on," the restaurant said in a Facebook post.

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Delay Of Tax Deadline Will Cause ‘Significant Disruption’ To State Budget Process - And Local Governments as Well!

Delay Of Tax Deadline Will Cause ‘Significant Disruption’ To State Budget Process - And Local Governments as Well! | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

With the coronavirus outbreak leading to layoffs, business closures, and a record spike in unemployment claims, Pennsylvania has delayed the deadline for filing personal income tax returns, offering taxpayers much-needed relief.

 

*****COVID-19 Employee Survey*****

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PWWQQGP 

 

How have you been impacted by COVID-19?

 

As a Newtown Township Supervisor I expect that I will be called upon to make critical decisions in the coming weeks in response to the financial impact on Newtown Township and citizens of the Coronavirus pandemic and the emergency mitigation measures currently in place. Consequently, it is important that I get feedback from local employees that have been impacted by COVID-19.

The survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete. No identifying information is collected via this survey unless you opt-in to provide such information for purposes of follow-up or by subscribing to my email newsletter.

 

NOTE: If you are an EMPLOYER, please take my COVID-19 Business Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D7CVTJ2

 

***********************************

But it also could create a cash crunch for the state and put lawmakers in the difficult position of trying to pass a budget without knowing how badly tax revenues have been affected by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.

 

The delayed filing deadline — which the Department of Revenue moved from April 15 to July 15 to correspond with federal changes by the IRS — will cause “significant disruption to the budget process,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) said.

The state typically collects a large chunk of income tax revenue in March and April as people file right before the deadline, Corman said. With the delay, actual and projected revenues will be “very difficult to know” by the June 30 deadline for passing the budget.

“That will be a challenge for all of us like we’ve probably never seen before,” Corman said, adding that lawmakers might need to pass a short-term budget because of the uncertainty.

The outbreak is expected to deal a serious blow to the state’s bottom line as efforts to slow the spread of the virus shutter wide swaths of the economy, undercutting several sources of tax revenue. Already, Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered a hiring freeze and general purchasing ban for state agencies in an effort to cut spending.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Note that in addition to loss of Earned Income Tax related to COVID-19 layoffs (read “PA Unemployment Claims Skyrocket”; http://sco.lt/8s31Qu), Newtown Twp is in danger of losing a significant amount of Real Estate Transfer Tax revenue if the decline in home sales persists. Real Estate Transfer Tax is a tax assessed and imposed upon the transfer of real property or an interest in real property within the limits of Newtown Township, regardless of where the instruments making the transfers are made, executed or delivered or where the actual settlements on the transfer take place, at the rate of 1% of the amount of the value of said real property. This tax is split between the Township and the Council Rock School District.

 

NOTE: The Township relies entirely on earned income tax, real estate transfer tax, and a local services tax to fund the general operations of the Township.

 

“COVID-19 Employee Impact Survey”; https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6HTHQML

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How Bad is Coronavirus' Impact On The Suburban Philly Real Estate Market?

How Bad is Coronavirus' Impact On The Suburban Philly Real Estate Market? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

In a normal year, March would see eager home buyers flocking to open houses, and sellers preparing their properties for what is usually the busiest season for the real estate market.

 

But this isn't a normal year.

 

So with no open houses or home tours, where does that leave the local real estate market in what is usually a pivotal time for the industry?

 

Local agents say that while the spring market has gotten off to a fast start, things have slowed since the spread of the coronavirus.

 

"I think it's definitely going to have an impact," said Tom Conte, the broker and owner of Avanti Real Estate in Warrington. He estimates the coronavirus crisis will push the spring market back 30 to 60 days. And an upswing in sales will be predicated on the fact that businesses owners and workers get the assistance they need to bridge life through the outbreak.

 

But for now, the short-term challenges are two-fold, Conte explains.

 

First, there are safety concerns. And then there are the obvious issues of how to market a property that no one can actually see in person.

 

Those contemplating listing their properties will be inviting strangers to come through their homes. "The people coming through your house could be a carrier, and they could be touching things in your house," Conte said.

 

And as a buyer, you're entering homes that could potentially have the virus.

 

The second challenge is how to market the homes that people can't currently tour.

 

To solve that conundrum, a bit of creativity is needed, Mauro Mellon said.

 

"It's a time for agents to start thinking outside the box in order to serve their clients as best as they can," she said.

 

That includes, obviously, online and social media marketing. And while traditional open houses are not an option at the moment, virtual open houses and home tours are a possibility. No contact closings are also an option and keep clients and staff safe.

 

Like many industries grappling with this crisis, there are many unknowns — and there is no clear timeline for how long restrictions will continue.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Note that in addition to loss of Earned Income Tax related to COVID-19 layoffs (read “PA Unemployment Claims Skyrocket”; http://sco.lt/8s31Qu), Newtown Twp is in danger of losing a significant amount ofReal Estate Transfer Tax revenue if the decline in home sales persists. Real Estate Transfer Tax is a tax assessed and imposed upon the transfer of real property or an interest in real property within the limits of Newtown Township, regardless of where the instruments making the transfers are made, executed or delivered or where the actual settlements on the transfer take place, at the rate of 1% of the amount of the value of said real property. This tax is split between the Township and the Council Rock School District.

 

NOTE: The Township relies entirely on earned income tax, real estate transfer tax, and a local services tax to fund the general operations of the Township.

 

“COVID-19 Employee Impact Survey”; https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6HTHQML

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PA Unemployment Claims Skyrocket To 540,000

PA Unemployment Claims Skyrocket To 540,000 | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

More than half a million Pennsylvanians have filed new unemployment claims during the past week, a record number indicative of the sweeping economic fallout from Gov. Tom Wolf’s statewide shutdown in order to slow the coronavirus.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Department of Labor and Industry had received a total of 540,000 new unemployment claims since March 16, when Wolf first announced the closure of all non-essential businesses, according to a state senator briefed by the labor secretary.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the highest number of first-time claims ever filed in Pennsylvania was 168,200, but that was for the entire month of January 2010, said Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D., Philadelphia), the minority chair of the senate committee on labor and industry.

The state has far surpassed that number in about seven days.

“You are going to have more and more people laid-off,” Tartaglione said. “There are going to be a lot more.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Given that many Newtown Twp residents and non-residents who work in Newtown may be laid off for weeks, if not months, it is likely that Newtown Twp will take a hit on Earned Income Tax (EIT) revenue in 2020. Note that this revenue is 61% of the total revenue projected for 2020.

 

“COVID-19 Employee Impact Survey”; https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6HTHQML

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The Truth About "Flushable Wipes" – They Create Havoc with Our Sewer System!

The Truth About "Flushable Wipes" – They Create Havoc with Our Sewer System! | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Contrary to what Madison Avenue ad execs may proclaim regarding the modern marvel of “flushable wipes,” the idea of flushing these wipes is a terrible idea.

Flushable wipes have become enemy number one amongst sewerage authorities across the nation and beyond due to the fact that they can, and do, create sewer blockages that result in overflows. Since these “wonder wipes” don’t degrade the way that toilet paper does, they combine with fats, oil and grease that exist in the sewer system and can become giant blobs of immovable objects that create nasty overflows of raw sewage in the streets.

Not only do these wipes create havoc for a sewer authority, but they also can create blockages in your internal plumbing or in your yard. Repairs could be costly when you have to call the local plumber to clear a blockage in your home.

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Earned Income Tax (EIT) Filing Deadline Extended To July 15, 2020

Earned Income Tax (EIT) Filing Deadline Extended To July 15, 2020 | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

As in years past, the local EIT filing deadline always aligned with the Federal and State filing deadlines. The PA Department of Revenue announced that Pennsylvania’s income tax filing deadlines are extended to July 15 like the Federal deadlines. For local EIT purposes, Keystone is accordingly extending the Individual filing deadlines to match the State and Federal date of July 15, 2020. Keystone will not apply penalty and interest on Tax Year 2019 Final Return payments until after July 15, 2020.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Obviously, Newtown's Earned Income Tax (EIT) and other tax revenue will likely be compromised with the temporary or permanent closure of businesses.The chart shows Resident+Non-Resident wage earned EIT from 2014 through 2020. The 2020 amount is a projected amount in the 2020 budget, which was approved in February, 2020, long before COVID-19 came on the scene. This source of revenue represents 61% of the total projected revenue of $12,029,477 in the 2020 budget. Clearly, this number is likely to be much less than the estimate and the delay in collecting EIT collection will be impactful as well.

 

“COVID-19 Employee Impact Survey”; https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6HTHQML

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Coronavirus Strike: Amazon And Instacart Workers Walk Off Jobs

Coronavirus Strike: Amazon And Instacart Workers Walk Off Jobs | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island and Instacart's grocery delivery workers nationwide plan to walk off their jobs on Monday. They are demanding stepped-up protection and pay as they continue to work while much of the country is asked to isolate as a safeguard against the coronavirus.

The strikes come as both Amazon and Instacart have said they plan to hire tens of thousands of new workers. Online shopping and grocery home delivery is skyrocketing as much of the nation hunkers down and people stay at home, following orders and recommendations from the federal and local governments.

This has put a spotlight on workers who shop, pack and deliver these high-demand supplies. Companies refer to the workers as "heroes," but they say their employers aren't doing enough to keep them safe.

The workers are asking for a variety of changes:

Workers from both Amazon and Instacart want more access to paid sick time off. At this time, it's only available to those who have tested positive for the coronavirus or get placed on mandatory self-quarantine.


Amazon workers want their warehouse to be closed for a longer cleaning, with guaranteed pay.


Instacart's grocery delivery gig workers are asking for disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer and better pay to offset the risk they are taking.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

These workers deserve the best protection and better pay!

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I am a retired small businessman who has lived in Newtown Township PA since 1995. The opinions expressed here are solely mine and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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