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

     A section of the five surviving blast furnaces of the former Bethlehem Steel Co. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

    A section of the five surviving blast furnaces of the former Bethlehem Steel Co. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

    Enjoy some urban reads this weekend. 

     Budget

    There’s a tentative budget agreement and lawmakers hope to shake hands on a new budget by Thanksgiving. There will be an increase in education funding. How much, remains to be seen. (Newsworks)There was some question as to whether an agreement was reached for one year or two year education funding, but all agree that budget negotiations are moving forward. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)A wealthy suburban county has to pull the plug on funding programs that the state would normally fund. After tapping into savings since July, Montgomery County has to reserve money for basic government functions and so services like Meals on Wheels will be placed on hold. (Newsworks)Lancaster High School students challenged local lawmakers, asking tough questions about the inequities of school funding and the budget impasse. (LancasterOnline)Even if a budget deal is reached by Thanksgiving, York County will still have to use a $20 million line of credit. (York Dispatch)

    Education

    Last month, Judge Chad Kenney cut funding to special education students enrolled in Chester-Upland’s cyber charter schools from $40,000 to $27,000 per student. Four cyber charters are appealing Kenney’s ruling to Commonwealth Court, arguing that the judge does not have jurisdiction to cut payments. (Newsworks)As Lehigh Valley’s manufacturing sector grows, along with a demand for skilled workers, Northampton Community College has renovated part of its Bethlehem campus to train students in welding and fabrication. (The Morning Call)

    Housing

    Makes sense. Neighborhoods with densely built homes require less roads, and are more walkable and bike-friendly. As reported by the Lancaster County Planning Commission, Lancaster needs to reduce sprawl and employ “smart growth.”

    Rent’s too high: Even though the housing crisis is over in many places, the rent is rising in many American cities. (CityLab)

    Immigration and refugees

    Allentown is bustling with new business and retail. In the next phase of its City Center project, there is some controversy. The program relies to an extent on foreign investors lending money in exchange for green cards for themselves and their families. It’s called the Immigrant Investor Program.

    Allentown has also become home to 39 new Syrian refugees. In addition to adjusting to a new life, in the U.S., some of the distrust of the civil war in Syria has follwed the refugees to their new home. Fellow Syrians are also offering hope and support. 

    Pensions

    Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced that the financial oversight group formed by the state legislature in 2004, known as the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA), can now be disbanded. One caveat: DePasquale is pushing that all gaming revenue now be applied to pension costs. (WESA)

    How do Pennsylvania municipalities fund pensions? Read our pension series

    Ideas worth stealing

    Bicyclists want to share the road with cars and pedestrians, so communities are adding bike lanes. It’s harder to enforce the law when a bicyclist is traveling at an unsafe speed or disregarding other laws. Houston is piloting a program to enforce the biking rules of the road.

    PIcture this: It’s a beautiful day in the Twin Cities and you want to bike, picnic and canoe along and on the Mississippi River. In the Twin Cities, a bike and canoe share program with ADA accessible docks allows for a car-free excursion. (City Lab)

    Changing spaces

    Pennsylvania communities are changing… finding ways to redefine themselves as old sources of revenue dry up and new resources are discovered. Partnering with StateImpact PA, Keystone Crossroads is debuting its third television program. “Changing Spaces.” (StateImpact PA)

    In an interview with WITF host Scott Lamar, Keystone Crossroads Producer Diana Robinson discusses the many ways Pennsylvania cities are reinventing themselves in order to survive. View a promotional video here. (WITF)

    Bethlehem’s SteelStacks were once viewed as a symbol of decline, but after 20 years and healing and incentives, The Stacks have been highlighted in the city’s landscape and incorporated into an arts complex.Have a great weekend.

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