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Chambers Advocate for Sustainable Cities
June, 2011

Hello. And welcome to At the Center.

As a countywide chamber, we are committed to doing all we can to improve the business climate throughout the County.  From local zoning and planning to a comprehensive transportation system, we always seek to target our advocacy efforts in a way that will ensure a prosperous community for all.

It is with this commitment in mind that we have chosen to get actively involved in local and statewide initiatives aimed at ensuring sustainable cities and boroughs in our County and throughout the Commonwealth. 

Now, allow me to make two points before outlining the initiative:  First, on a relative basis, Lancaster City and our county’s boroughs are stronger and more vibrant than most across the state.  And we can credit both local leadership and our diverse economy for that.  So, in that regard, we aren’t rushing to this issue reactively; rather we are addressing it proactively to ensure the continued viability of our City and boroughs, and avoid the recent headlines that have been impacting cities throughout the state. Secondly, this is not simply about more tax revenue.  So often the first thing people do when they hear of these types of initiatives is to write them off as an attempt to get more tax money.  That is not what this is about.

Instead, what this is about is promoting structural changes in our cities and boroughs – removing state-mandated barriers in their operations that force a most costly and less efficient government.

As an example, did you know that the state currently mandates how our cities and boroughs can handle contract negotiations? And, should those negotiations go to arbitration, did you know the arbitrators are prohibited from considering the city’s ability to pay in the final ruling? 

Did you know that the state currently mandates how local government pensions can be administered and mandates minimum formulas, causing very little wiggle room for any negotiations on this very expensive legacy cost?

These two cost drivers alone find our cities and boroughs essentially hand-cuffed by the state to effectively control costs and be in control of their own destinies.  In other words, mandating a one-size-fits-all approach for negotiations, pensions and other items simply doesn’t work.  And we believe the time for change isn’t just now….it’s long overdue.

Over the course of the summer, we will be working with a constantly growing coalition of local chambers, statewide associations and state and local elected officials to craft and introduce legislation that will tackle these challenges and promote options – not restrictions -- for cost controls within our local governments.   Cost controls that will serve the long-term interest of our communities and, undoubtedly create a better business climate for all of Pennsylvania. 

I hope you agree and I hope you choose to get involved in helping us make a difference by contacting your elected officials and letting them know your thoughts.  Simply put, the countywide business voice must be heard on this one if we are going to realize our full potential for success.  Please visit our website or give us a call for more information.

You’ve heard it before, yet I’ll state it again….without a strong city our entire county will suffer.  And, conversely, with a strong city we all benefit.  The same is true for our boroughs, as they are equally key to our countywide success and why we believe this initiative is so critical for all of us.  Your interest and involved is greatly appreciated.

Until next time, stay informed, stay engaged and stay with us…At the Center.

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