Neighborhood news in brief for the week of March 19

A new pen­sion re­form pro­pos­al is in­tro­duced, ZBA ap­proves Port Rich­mond res­taur­ant and oth­er neigh­bor­hood news in brief.

Sen­ate demo­crats un­veil pen­sion re­form pro­pos­al

Sen­ate demo­crats presen­ted a three-point pen­sion re­form pro­pos­al last week.

The pro­pos­al would re­fin­ance $9 bil­lion of the State Em­ploy­ees’ Re­tire­ment Sys­tem and the Pub­lic School Em­ploy­ees’ Re­tire­ment Sys­tem’s al­most $50 bil­lion in un­der­fund­ing, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease.

It would also re­form the state pen­sion law to stop charter schools from re­ceiv­ing double-dip state re­im­burse­ments and lower the col­lars on state and school dis­trict pay­ments to provide budget re­liefs.  

“Over the next five years, it would save school dis­tricts $600 mil­lion and the com­mon­wealth $1 bil­lion,” Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic Lead­er Jay Costa (D-Al­legheny) said in a writ­ten state­ment.

The pro­pos­al was made to avoid por­tions of Gov. Tom Corbett’s pen­sion pro­pos­al, such as $2 mil­lion in ad­di­tion­al pay­ments over the next four years, $5 bil­lion in un­fun­ded pen­sion li­ab­il­it­ies and in­creased fu­ture costs that could add mil­lions to the pen­sion crisis, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.  

State Sen. Christine M. Tartagli­one (D-2nd Dist.) is among loc­al law­makers sup­port­ing this pro­pos­al.

“It avoids the ex­pens­ive court chal­lenges oth­er pro­pos­als will bring,” she said in a state­ment. “It re­as­sures thou­sands of state work­ers, edu­cat­ors, and re­tir­ees that they will not be af­fected by at­tempts to change par­ti­cip­a­tion rules.”

Oth­er loc­al sen­at­ors are also lend­ing their sup­port to the pro­pos­al, such as State Sen. Mike Stack (D-5th Dist.).

“We can­not con­tin­ue to put off the in­ev­it­able, but we have budget dif­fi­culties to face,” he said. “This for­ward-think­ing solu­tion will re­solve the prob­lem without put­ting too much bur­den on work­ing fam­il­ies.” ••

ZBA green­lights bar-room

The Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment gran­ted ap­prov­al for a pro­posed jazz-age themed res­taur­ant at 2658 E. Clear­field St. in Port Rich­mond last Tues­day, March 11.

Busi­ness part­ners Dan Gan­non and An­thony Cep­par­ulo presen­ted their plans to com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions throughout the past few months pri­or to the hear­ing and have re­ceived pos­it­ive sup­port from neigh­bor­hood res­id­ents.

The bar and res­taur­ant, called “bar-room,” is pro­jec­ted to open later this sum­mer. ••

SN­BL ap­proves Grace Town­homes

Somer­set Neigh­bors for Bet­ter Liv­ing ap­proved the pro­posed Grace Town­homes de­vel­op­ment in Port Rich­mond at their monthly meet­ing last Monday, March 10.

As re­por­ted by Star last month, the Grace Town­homes de­vel­op­ment would bring 36 rent­al units to 2201 E. Au­burn St. by early 2016.

The pro­ject de­veloper, the Wo­men’s Com­munity Re­vital­iz­a­tion Pro­ject, planned to give a present­a­tion on the de­vel­op­ment at SN­BL’s two pre­vi­ous planned meet­ings, but snowstorms forced both meet­ings to be can­celled.

Of the 45 at­tendees who were eli­gible to vote at the meet­ing, 27 voted in fa­vor of the pro­ject, while 18 were op­posed.  

“There were a num­ber of res­id­ents con­cerned with hav­ing rent­al units as op­posed to a mix­ture of both homeown­ers and rent­als,” NK­CDC Com­munity En­gage­ment Dir­ect­or Carla Castillo said.

Oth­er at­tendees were wor­ried that the pro­ject would lead to an in­crease in prop­erty tax in the neigh­bor­hood.

The pro­ject’s fate is now in the hands of the zon­ing board, which will hold a hear­ing on Wed­nes­day, March 26, at 2 p.m. at 1515 Arch St., 18th floor.

The ZBA will take in­to ac­count all re­gistered com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions’ votes on the pro­ject when com­ing to a fi­nal de­cision. ••

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