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State/County - Bristol Borough

Commissioners Approve 2024 Operating Budget

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The Bucks County Commissioners on Wednesday approved the County’s $486.8 million Operating Budget for 2024, including a slight tax increase that wipes out the County’s long-running structural deficit.

The budget, which passed Wednesday in a 2-1 vote during the board’s regular public meeting, balances the County’s finances while fully funding the County’s many departments and services, including Courts and Row Offices, through the end of next year.

Commissioner Chair Bob Harvie and Vice-Chair Diane Ellis-Marseglia both voted in favor of the full budget package as recommended to the Board of Commissioners by Chief Financial Officer Dave Boscola.

Commissioner Secretary Gene DiGirolamo voted against the budget as well as the tax, millage and fee schedules. He voted in favor of appropriations to County agencies and authorities.

The two-mill tax increase included in the budget is expected to raise nearly $17 million annually while adding only about $60 to the average homeowner’s yearly tax bill.

County property taxes last rose in the 2020 budget as adopted under the previous Administration, but the hike wasn’t enough to erase the deficit. The new increase is in line with findings from the County’s 2020 bipartisan Transition Team Report, which recommended a two-mill increase as a way to stabilize the County’s finances.

Together with the County’s decreasing debt obligations, 2024’s modest increase should eliminate the need for additional tax hikes and stabilize finances at least through the end of the decade, said Commissioner Marseglia.

“We tried for a couple years to not deal with [the deficit] during COVID, because we knew people were stretched and they couldn’t afford to have a tax increase,” said Commissioner Marseglia. “Everybody knows we have a structural deficit. Everybody knows where it came from. We have the lowest debt ratio in the collar counties, and I believe we have done a really good job to keep this under $1.20 per week.”

The 2024 budget total reflects a 6.2 percent increase from 2023. In keeping with previous years, the bulk of the coming year’s allotments – about 75 percent – are earmarked for County departments providing public safety, public health services, mental health services and social services programs.

Commissioner Harvie noted that previous Administrations patched budget gaps using the reserve fund – a practice this Administration ended in the interest of fiscal responsibility – and that today, the fund is as low as it can go without risking a credit rating downgrade.

“In my 20 years as an elected official, I have never voted to raise property taxes, and since coming into these offices nearly four years ago we have worked incredibly hard to meet all the needs of our residents while not raising taxes. We have been able to accomplish this by using funding from the federal government, holding the line and even cutting expenses, and finding creative ways to generate revenue,” said Commissioner Harvie. “But the deficit we inherited will not go away just because we want it to.”

Prior to implementing this increase, the County in the last four years has pursued multiple avenues to raise revenue, cut costs and increase efficiency throughout County government. These efforts have included merging departments, offloading costly assets and entering into a $24 million conservation easement. The County has also saved tens of millions through restructuring of the Law Department and aggressive settlement negotiation.

Boscola, who leads the Finance Department in preparing the budget each year, thanked the Commissioners, Department Heads, Division Leaders, Court Administrators, Row Officers and his staff for their assistance and cooperation in compiling this year’s budget document.

Prepared each year by the Finance Department for approval by the County Commissioners, the County’s operating budget includes funding for departments and agencies serving county residents including the Area Agency on Aging (AAA), Behavioral Health/Developmental Programs, Board of Elections, Children & Youth Social Services Agency, Community Services, Corrections, Emergency Services, General Services, Health Department, Neshaminy Manor, Parks and Recreation and Veterans Affairs, among others.

The County’s budget also provides funding for the courts and the County’s nine elected Row Offices, including the Clerk of Courts, Controller, Coroner, District Attorney, Prothonotary, Recorder of Deeds, Register of Wills, Sheriff and Treasurer.

The full 2024 operating budget can be viewed here.

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

New LBTQ+ Advocacy Group Fairness Pennsylvania Launches

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Fairness Pennsylvania (FPA), the first full-time statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights program in several years kicked off on Monday, June 3 with Pennsylvania organizers, advocates, and legislators  at the state Capitol.

“We are ready to hit the ground running,” said Sarah Hammond, Fairness PA’s State Director, in a press release. “There are so many engaged activists and strong voices working right now in communities across the state. Our first priority is to identify ways that a new, statewide organization can assist these dedicated activists to move the needle here in Harrisburg and around the state.”

Hammond said. “…FPA is dedicated to promoting equality and fostering nondiscrimination principles in PA so that our LGBTQ+ community can be open, honest, and safe at home, at work, and in our communities across the state.”

In a statement, Governor Josh Shapiro said, “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was founded on the ideals of tolerance and understanding and I’m proud to stand alongside Fairness PA as they work to promote those values and build a better, stronger Commonwealth for all.”

Credit: Submitted

“No matter what you look like, where you come from, who you love, or who you pray to, you deserve equal protection under the law in Pennsylvania….” said Shapiro. “It’s long past time we put partisanship aside and pass a nondiscrimination law that protects LGBTQ Pennsylvanians,” continued the press release.

Hammond said that an immediate priority for Fairness PA would be passage of the Fairness Act, which would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in the state, according to the press release. The Fairness Act passed in the state House in April 2023 but has yet to be considered in the state Senate. Shapiro earlier this year called on on the General Assembly to finally come together and pass the Fairness Act.

Fairness Pennsylvania can be found online at fairnesspenn.org or @FairnessPA on social media.

For more information, please visit Fairness PA or contact Pete Shelly at pshelly@clearpointpa.com.

 

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Courts & Fire - Other

Nearby: Wellness Check Turns into Homicide Investigation, Son in Custody

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What started as a wellness check of an elderly woman turned into a homicide investigation in Northampton Township  and the victim’s son says he’s responsible , said police.

The woman was identified as Dolores Ingram and lived in a condominium on Beacon Hill Drive in the Holland section of the township.

The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office and the Northampton Township Police Department are continuing their investigation into the killing of the 82-year-old woman. An autopsy will be conducted Tuesday, June 18, authorities said.

Northampton Township Police said they were dispatched to do a wellness check of a resident on Sunday, June 16, 2024, after her son, William Michael Ingram, 49, had been taken into custody in Washington D.C. for allegedly assaulting an officer and damaging a police vehicle. During his arrest, he told several Metro D.C. police officers, he killed his mother.  On Monday, he was charged with stealing his mother’s vehicle, authorities said.

The victim was located inside her home after Bucks County radio dispatchers received a call from the Metropolitan D.C. Police Department to check on her well-being.

Northampton Township police officers responded to the address. From the outside of the first-floor condo, they observed blood on a windowsill and more blood smeared on the walls, window, and floor inside. The furniture inside appeared in disarray. Police forced entry through the locked front door. The living room appeared to have been cleared out, with the exception of a pile of clothes, towels/linens, furniture, and other household items on the far-right side of the living room. One of the officers began to pull items off the pile and move the couch. As he moved the couch, he observed a foot, which felt cold to the touch. The officer noted there appeared to be no signs of life, police said.

Credit: Laughs for Recovery

Northampton Township Police and the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office launched a death investigation. Investigators obtained a search warrant, and the deceased female was identified. authorities said, she appeared to have sustained severe head trauma. She was buried under a pile of household items, including furniture and clothes, in the main living room area

The Bucks County District Attorney’s office said, a witness reported being awakened at 1 a.m. Saturday to the sound of loud banging. While the witness was awake, she reviewed her home camera and at 1:42 a.m., the camera showed William Ingram running out of the condo shirtless. He walked back a minute later. Hours later, at 10:03 a.m., the camera showed him leaving the residence. He was wearing a shirt and carrying a duffel bag. The witness said she had not seen him since.

Police located +Ingram’s vehicle in the complex’s parking lot, but his mother’s white 2015 Honda Civic was missing. Using license plate readers, investigators tracked the vehicle to two locations: at 10:13 a.m. at the 413 Bypass and Route 332 East in Newtown Township, and at 10:21 a.m. on Route 332 and Stony Hill Road in Lower Makefield Township. Based on the readings, the vehicle was traveling away from the residence. During a search of the residence, police could not locate the keys to Dolores Ingram’s Honda Civic, but they did locate a key fob for William Ingram’s vehicle next to his mother’s body, said police.

Detectives with the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office and the Northampton Township Police Department are handling the investigation, with help from the Metropolitan D.C. Police Department. This case is assigned for prosecution to Deputy District Attorney Marc J. Furber and Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Reckner, said Bucks County District Attorney’s Office spokesman, Manuel Gamiz Jr.

Court records show William Ingram is currently charged with two felony counts with the theft of his mother’s car. .

He remains in custody in Washington D.C. Additional charges against him will be filed at the appropriate time, said the Bucks County District Attorney’s office.

 

 

 

 

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Health - Bensalem Township

Bucks County Cooling Centers while Excessive Heat Warning in Effect

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An Excessive Heat Warning will be in effect in Bucks County from 10 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday evening.

With an extended stretch of days with temperatures forecast in the 90s, cooling centers in Upper, Central and Lower Bucks will be open for the duration of the advisory to seniors and people experiencing homelessness who are seeking refuge from the heat.

The following cooling centers will operate from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. each day unless otherwise noted:

Bensalem Senior Citizens Association
1850 Byberry Road
Bensalem, PA 19020
215-638-7720
*CLOSED SATURDAYS*

Bristol Borough Senior Center
301 Wood Street
Bristol, PA 19007
215-788-9238

Morrisville Senior Service Center
31 E. Cleveland Avenue
Morrisville, PA 19067
215-295-0567
*CLOSED WEDNESDAY 6/19 AND SATURDAY 6/22*

Palisades Middle School, Library
4710 Durham Road
Kintnersville, PA 18930
HOURS 10 A.M. –  5 P.M.
*CLOSED SATURDAYS*

Quakertown Masonic Lodge
501 W. Broad Street
Quakertown, PA 18951
267-450-5191

Riegelsville Borough Hall
615 Easton Road
Riegelsville, PA 18077
610-749-2726

YMCA of Bucks County – Warminster Branch
624 York Road
Warminster, PA 18974
267-387-9622
*CLOSES AT 5 P.M. SATURDAYS*

YMCA of Bucks County – Fairless Hills Branch
601 S. Oxford Valley Road
Fairless Hills, PA 19030
215-949-3400
*CLOSES AT 5 P.M. SATURDAYS*

Senior centers throughout Bucks County are also open and available daily to residents 55 and over. Check with your local senior center for hours of operation and details.

The county generally issues an Excessive Heat Warning when the National Weather Service forecasts daytime temperatures will reach 95 degrees by 11 a.m. on two or more consecutive days, or when heat indexes will reach 100 degrees on any given day.

Municipalities or nonprofit agencies interested in participating in this program in the future should contact Bucks County Emergency Services at 215-340-8700.

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NOAA Weather

Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia Airport, PA

Last Updated on Jun 5 2024, 7:54 am EDT

Current Conditions: Fog/Mist

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Temp: 68°F

Wind: East at 5mph

Humidity: 87%

Dewpoint: 64.0°F

Your 5-Day Forecast at a Glance

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