March 27: Census shows growth | Transit Workers Union not afraid of strike | Taxing shale, funding schools | Red light camera support wanes | Shopping center sold

Philadelphia’s population grew 0.29 percent between July 2012 and July 2013. The latest Census data shows the city’s population grew by 4,518 residents. The growth is smaller, though, than it was in past years, partially due to the fact that more people moved out of the city last year than moved in. Between 2010 and 2012, the city’s population grew by more than 1.3 percent. At the same time, Philadelphia became the least healthy county in Pennsylvania

The Transit Workers Union Local 234 wants SEPTA to come to the table “serious about negotiating.” Otherwise, the union said chances of a  transit strike against SEPTA are “very good.” The union’s 4,700 members have been working without a contract since mid-March, when SEPTA and union officials failed to reach an agreement. TWU Local 234 President Willie Brown said any potential strike would not take place until SEPTA’s contracts with three smaller unions expire at the beginning of April. 

State Senator Vincent Hughes wants to tax Marcellus Shale drilling in order to raise $375 million for local school districts. Hughes is scheduled to announce his plan to impose a 5-percent severance tax on Marcellus Shale natural-gas drilling at a rally outside of the Philadelphia School District headquarters. The tax would also generate an estimated $195 million for economic development and $150 million for environmental uses in the first year. 

Support for red light cameras appears to be waning in New Jersey. A AAA survey found that 56 percent of New Jersey drivers believe cameras are a good way to reduce crashes. That’s a 21-point drop since 2007, before cameras were installed in the state. It is not clear if the 24 municipalities with cameras will continue to use them.

The South Philadelphia shopping center anchored by Home Depot and BJ’s Wholesale Club sold for $92.3 million. The 43-acre site is 98 percent occupied and has approval for 98,000 square feet of future development. 

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