In case you missed it: this week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

    Pennsylvania public school students change classes. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis)

    Pennsylvania public school students change classes. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis)

    Welcome to Labor Day weekend. In case you have an extra day to catch up on your urban reads, we have lots to share.

    Distressed cities

    Pennsylvania has the least regulated property assessment system in the country. Counties can wait as long as they want to do a reassessment. The state average is 22 years. Nanticoke has been able to emerge from Act 47 in part, because of a reassessment and increased property taxes.

    Like Nanticoke, Bottrop, Germany is an industrial city, with a once thriving coal mine that plans to shut down. Bottrop is hoping that through green initiatives and public-private partnerships the city can rebrand itself and attract new business. Pennsylvania towns like Braddock, may have ideas Bottrop can steal, by turning brownfields into a hub for eco-friendly businesses. 

    Cost of Living

    Pittsburgh is attracting more college students to the city. (CityLab)

    Despite the brain gain, it’s increasingly more expensive to rent in downtown Pittsburgh. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    The Lehigh Valley is the third most expensive region in the state. That’s according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute. Although the EPI states that it is nonpartisan, some view the study as a push to increase the minimum wage (LehighValleyLive)Budget and schools

    Speaking of the budget debate, there isn’t much to say. Doors have been closed to the press as negotiations go underground.

    Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has been a bit more vocal on the budget talks. In fact, DePasquale went on to say that the ramifications of the budget stalemate on school costs, especially those that need to borrow money, will be reflected in a statewide audit of all 500 school districts. No pressure, Harrisburg. Increased scrutiny of Allentown continues as DePasquale plans to ensure that the Allentown School Board has policies in place to avoid conflict of interests. (The Morning Call)

    Monday was the first day of school for many Pennsylvania students, and day 62 of the budget impasse. Some pre-schools are unable to open or have to take out bridge loans. (PennLive

    Chester Upland students returned to class Wednesday. The atmosphere was festive despite the bleak economic outlook, with teachers agreeing to work without pay. (NewsWorks)

    Drive me crazy

    Mapping out a road trip this holiday weekend? PennDOT has a website of its active construction sites so that you can plan your route. (NewsWorks)

    A study by WalletHub found that Pennsylvania is too lenient on high-risk drivers, second only to South Dakota. Just to confuse things a bit more, Bankrate found Pennsylvania drivers to be more “the middle of the road.” (Lancaster Online)

    Driverless cars obey all traffic laws. The problem occurs when they encounter human drivers who don’t. (The New York Times)It’s a holiday weekend which means more cars on the road which means more car accidents, right? Wrong. We need to humanize the event and that it isn’t an “accident,” but a “crash.” There’s a difference. (CityLab)

     Take it Outside

    This weekend’s weather promises to be beautiful. If you are visiting Philly you can dine outside at one of the many restaurants with outdoor seating – a 429 percent increase since 2001. (PlanPhilly)If you prefer to stroll outside with your beer, this is the first official year you will be permitted to buy and carry your beer at the 163rd Allentown Fair. Last year the practice was allowed, but not promoted. (The Morning Call)There is a Lancaster County bike ride along the Susquehanna that is a feast for the senses — including a certain scent that “stings the nostrils.” (PennLive)

    Whether you are inside or out about and about, have a fun and safe Labor Day weekend.

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