Posted by: webmaster | April 13, 2015

Commissioner Cozzone Pens Support for Wolf Tax Plan

2015_0413LogoTheTimesOfChesterCounty

 

 

 

Op/Ed: It’s time to overhaul state’s tax code March 20, 2015
Gov. Wolf deserves credit for starting a conversation on taxing

By Kathi Cozzone, Chester County Commissioner

Most Pennsylvanians would agree that our tax code needs some work. I talk to many residents with long-standing complaints: senior citizens having trouble coping with rising school propertyCozzone taxes, small business owners paying the nation’s highest corporate net income (CNI) tax or middle class families who generally feel that the system is built to serve the super-rich at their expense. Gov. Tom Wolf deserves so much credit for starting a conversation about fundamentally improving our tax code with bold ideas that address these concerns like his plan to turbo-charge property tax relief while helping districts lower millage rates or his plan to cut the CNI tax in half while allowing another business tax – the capitol stock and franchise tax – to expire.

Most citizens of the commonwealth are trying to answer the same question, “How would these proposals affect me and my family?”  In our area, much of the property tax relief will likely go to lower-wage workers who serve our communities and senior citizens on fixed incomes; many of whom could see their property taxes eliminated altogether.  I think those are the right priorities.  But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us have nothing to gain.  As I mentioned above, our county’s vibrant business community will see significant tax relief.  Everyone in Chester County, and the entire state, will benefit from increased school funding and tougher rules for increasing school taxes that will at the very least keep them under control.

Another benefit that many might be overlooking is the cut in the Philadelphia wage tax.  I can easily tell by the lack of parking at the Exton train station at 8am, or the virtual parking lot that 202 North or the Schuylkill can become around the same time, that many suburban residents work in Philadelphia and pay that wage tax.  The Wolf plan would cut the wage tax for non-city residents 14%.  That means more money in the pockets of many Chester Countians to spend right here where they live.

The Wolf plan provides all this tax relief, closes the budget deficit left by his predecessor and makes needed investments in our schools and many other important state priorities, including funding for human services provided by the County.  He pays for this with a tax on natural gas extraction that puts Pennsylvania on par with every other gas- or oil-producing state, and small increases in the sales and income taxes of less than a percent in each case (with some expanded application of the sales tax).  Both of these increases are less than those advocated by many Republicans and Democrats in the previous legislative session’s tax shifting scheme.  It is my hope that the Republicans who control both the State House and State Senate will resist the urge to play politics. We can’t afford blind opposition to the Governor’s ideas or a status quo budget.  Let’s work together and accomplish great things for our Commonwealth.

Posted by: webmaster | April 17, 2015

Funding Award to Chester County Historical Society

Chester County Commissioners Award funding
to Chester County Historical Society as part of
Women’s History Month recognition

Submitted photo Left to right: Chester County Commissionersí Chair Terence Farrell, Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline, George Zumbano, Esq, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Chester County Historical Society, Laurie Rofini, Director, Chester County Archives and Records, and Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone.

Chester County Commissioners Terence Farrell, Kathi Cozzone and Michelle Kichline presented a check for $72,000 to the Chester County Historical Society at this week’s Sunshine Meeting.

The check was part of the commissioners’ annual appropriations to organizations and non-profits throughout the county and was made as part of the formal recognition of Women’s History Month. In addition to the check, the commissioners presented a proclamation to the Historical Society commemorating Women’s History Month and noting some significant historical contributions by women in Chester County.

In his remarks thanking the commissioners for the donated funds, George Zumbano, Esq, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Chester County Historical Society said: “The Historical Society is the official history library of Chester County, housing more than 500,000 manuscripts and 25,000 printed volumes.

“We see approximately 10,000 students every year and provide many programs for them. These funds will contribute greatly to the school and youth programs that the Historical Society offers – programs that spark curiosity, teach the power of historic objects, and keep young people engaged in their local history.

Posted by: webmaster | April 17, 2015

Volunteers in the limelight

Chester County puts volunteers in limelight

At their meeting on Wednesday, April 15, the Chester County Commissioners gave a pat on the back to the county’s volunteer corps and its telecommunicators.

Evan Dominick, a nine-year Chester County employee, holds the proclamation for . He is flanked by Commissioner Terence Farell (from left), Commissioner Michelle Kichline, Deputy Director of 9-1-1 Operations John Haynes, and Commissioner Kathi Cozzone.

Commissioners’ Chairman Terence Farrell explained that the week of April 12 to April 18 is not only Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week, but also Volunteer Appreciation Week.

Commissioner Kathi Cozzone read a proclamation applauding the county’s 72 full-time and eight part-time telecommunicators for handling 282,992 emergency telephone calls for assistance during 2014. And Commissioner Michelle Kichline recited the one for county volunteers, referencing the fact that they save taxpayers more than $1 million every year.

John Haynes, the deputy director of 9-1-1 operations, said he was grateful for the recognition as well as the fact that the telecommunicators’ dedication and professionalism contribute to a “truly world-class” emergency services operation.

Jeanne Casner, who heads the county’s Health Department, thanked the commissioners for spotlighting the volunteers. About 40 volunteers provide invaluable assistance to her department, logging 3,300-plus hours a year, she said.

Rebecca Brain, the county’s public information officer, announced the debut of a new Web page, Volunteer Chesco, a site that combines all of the county government volunteer opportunities in one place. Brain said the county offers a mix of options that range from serving in the Medical Reserve Corps to working as a computer tutor to supporting Chester County’s Animal Rescue Team.

“We have an incredible spirit of volunteerism here in Chester County,” Cozzone noted, pointing out that the week also honors the many volunteers who are first-responders or serve area nonprofits.

To learn more about county volunteer opportunities, visit  http://chesco.org/index.aspx?NID=2969 . It can also be accessed by going to the county’s home page – www.chesco.org – and clicking on Volunteer Chesco.

Posted by: webmaster | October 15, 2012

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The three Chester County Commissioners with Dolly Weidman Scott, Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County (DVCCC), presenting a proclamation about Domestic Violence Awareness Month on October 9, 2012.

Commissioner Ryan Costello, DVCCC Executive Director Dolly Weidman Scott, Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, Commissioner Terence Farrell

Posted by: webmaster | September 10, 2012

Spotted: Chester County Commissioner at the DNC


September 7, 2012

Credit PBS Newshour/YouTube.

Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone had a few seconds of screen time while attending the Democratic National Convention.

Chester County viewers of President Barack Obama’s Thursday night speech at the Democratic National Convention might have noticed a familiar face.

During PBS NewsHour’s coverage of the speech, Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone as well as former West Chester Borough Council President Bill Scott were featured in one of the crowd reaction shots.

For Printing: News Release PDF (two pages)

Posted by: webmaster | June 20, 2012

Ex-movie set a crowd-pleaser for pet-lovers

 

Ex-movie set a crowd-pleaser for pet-lovers
June 11, 2012

Chester County SPCA’s Forget-Me-Not gala brings hundreds to Unionville 

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

Emcee Dawn Timmeney (from left) introduces Katie and Cuyler Walker, and State Sen. Andy Dinniman, who brought his dog, Henry.

A passion for pets pervaded the Chester County SPCA’s elegant 25th annual Forget-Me-Not Gala in Unionville on Sunday.

Held at the residence of Katie and Cuyler Walker – a horse farm featured in two films by M. Night Shyamalan – the event attracted a crowd eager to support the efforts of the Chester County SPCA, a nonprofit dependent on donations for its mission of animal-advocacy.

The Walkers not only opened their property for the fund-raiser, they also more than quadrupled their normal animal population – five dogs and nine horses. In addition, they invited more than 200 visitors to tour their stately, mid-1800s home, which will be showcased again on this year’s Chester County Day, a benefit for Chester County Hospital.

“We had no hesitation,” said Katie Walker, describing the privilege of sharing what makes the Unionville area special with a worthy cause.

For Cuyler Walker, who chairs the East Marlborough Township supervisors’ board, a commitment to animals is likely part of his DNA. The family’s five Labradors are the 19th generation of Peggy of Shipman, one of the first labs brought to the U.S. from England by his great uncle.

Roberta Odell (left) gets ready to depart the festivities with Chester County SPCA board vice president Doug Marshall, who drove her renowned team of pony mules.

The Walkers’ home features a treasured collection of dog photographs, books and memorabilia. For example, in 1938, one of the family dogs’ ancestors made the cover of Life magazine for being a three-time champion.

And to complement their impressive lineage, the Walker dogs can even boast Ivy League exposure. Cuyler Walker recalled the time he came home from college on vacation to find a litter of puppies, one of which had to go back to Yale with him. Simba was a hit – both on and off the campus, he said.

The fact that he was no longer living in a dorm made the arrangement possible. He said he started taking the puppy to class, and no one ever complained. “I was discreet,” he said. “I usually sat in the back, and she would sleep.”

The gala’s activities included scheduled canine demonstrations by U.S. Customs officials and Search & Rescue Dogs of Pennsylvania as well as impromptu obedience-training sessions by Cuyler Walker. The program was emceed by NBC10 anchor Dawn Timmeney, another unabashed dog enthusiast.

Chuck Wooters of Search & Rescue Dogs of Pennsylvania gets ready for a splash after his two dogs got permission for a dip in the pool.

“No arm-twisting needed,” she said of her participation in the event. Timmeney, who owns two Golden Retrievers, said she has been impressed with the work of the Chester County SPCA, which has been featured on her show, “Dawn’s Pet Project.”

No Forget-Me-Not would be complete without its traditional carriage parade, and Sunday’s sunny skies enhanced the photo opportunities. More than 15 carriages with occupants in period finery traveled up the Walker’s long driveway as cameras clicked. Among the passengers: Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone and her family.

“We wouldn’t miss this,” she said. “It’s a very special event.”

State Sen. Andy Dinniman also made an appearance, joined by his dog, Henry. He urged the audience to voice support for a bill he sponsored to make Pennsylvania the 20th state in the country to ban the gasing of dogs. He said he hoped the bill, which passed in the Senate, would be approved by the House in the fall.

The gala also received support from a variety of local businesses that donated culinary offerings, such as The Gables at Chadds Ford, Brandywine Prime, and Victory Brewing Company, as well as a potpourri of items for the silent auction.

While spectators watch the elegant carriages, the passengers check out the spectacular view during the parade.

Conrad E. Muhley, board president of the Chester County SPCA, extended thanks to the many people who made the gala possible, especially the Walkers and Frank Sobyak, a longtime board member and contributor.

Rich Britton, a spokesman for the Chester County SPCA, said it was great to see people reach out to the agency, which has had a challenging year. In addition to orchestrating a much-needed expansion of its West Goshen facility, the Chester County SPCA investigates an average of 450 complaints a year of animal abuse.

The most recent case involved the burning death of a 15-pound terrier in Coatesville last week. A necropsy is expected to be performed at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center today, Britton said.

Residents voice nearly unanimous plea not to privatize
Pocopson Home

May 15, 2012

More than 200 attend county commissioners’ 2nd information session

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Special to UnionvilleTimes.com

About 230 local residents turned out for a meeting Monday night about the future of the Pocopson Home, with most supporting continued Chester County operation of the 275-bed facility.

DOWNINGTOWN — The venue was larger and the crowd a bit smaller, but the message to the Chester County commissioners remained virtually the same: Don’t privatize the Pocopson Home.

The input occurred during the second in a series of public meetings to discuss the findings of a strategic plan for the county-owned Pocopson Home, a 275-bed long-term, health-care facility. About 230 people attended the forum, which was held in the auditorium of Downingtown High School East.

But unlike the May 2 meeting, the sentiments to keep the facility county-owned and operated were not unanimous. Although more than 20 speakers urged the commissioners to find ways to fund the ballooning costs, a couple of residents suggested the county would be better served to sell the facility.

The commissioners have explained that declining state and federal reimbursements and skyrocketing operating costs prompted them several months ago to contract Premier Healthcare Resources, a King of Prussia firm, to prepare a strategic plan and financial analysis. The results of that study were released at the first meeting, prompting an hour of heartfelt testimony about the Pocopson Home’s incomparable quality of care from the crowd of approximately 250.

At last night’s meeting, speakers were encouraged not to repeat the impassioned testimonials that echoed throughout the first meeting, but some could not contain themselves. Diane Graham, who spoke with difficulty, drew the loudest applause after she lovingly described her home of 21 years.

Helen Weber of East Goshen elicited some gasps when she opined that she didn’t believe taxpayers should foot the bill. “I don’t know why the county should be in this business,” she said.

As before, the commissioners stressed that no decision on the home’s fate has been made, no residents would be displaced no matter what the outcome, and at least one more hearing will be scheduled to review the options.

“We can’t make a decision without taking the temperature of Chester County,” said Commissioners’ Chairman Terence Farrell, explaining the need for the meetings, which will be publicized on the county’s web site.

“We’re still evaluating everything,” said Commissioner Ryan Costello. “I am not interested in being a part of anything that would involve any one of you moving out of your home …We are all sensitive to the quality-of-care issues.”

Costello said that because the Pocopson Home requires subsidies, the commissioners “owe it to you as taxpayers” to evaluate the facility. “We don’t have to be in this business,” he said.. “This is just us doing our best to be transparent and accountable.”

Without making a recommendation, the report focused on three changes that would enable the county to save money on the facility: converting it to a nonprofit 501c3, leasing it to a private operator, or selling it. The springboard for last night’s discussion was an hourlong presentation by Joann Jones, Premier Healthcare’s president, which featured projections on future operating losses at the home, ranging from a possible $1.4 million in 2012 to $3.1 million in 2016. She also identified two possible income-producing additions to the home – dialysis treatment and short-term rehabilitation.

Some of the numbers raised questions.

For example, Costello wanted to know why the consultants predicted a 1 percent increase for Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements in 2013. After learning that the projection was based on historical patterns, he paused. “If it rains for a while, it has to get sunny?” he asked.

Patricia Barry, a nurse from West Brandywine Township, wanted more information on what she viewed as the disproportionately high “indirect costs” assigned to Pocopson, such as allocations for the county’s human resources and accounting services. Cozzone said the commissioners would research the formula used. Costello said “a good portion” of the financial losses stemming from those costs – about $1.4 million – would continue even if the county sold the facility.

Despite the red ink, many speakers said they believed the county should continue to fund the facility. And, like the first meeting, several had suggestions, which ran the gamut from raising taxes to saving energy.

Donald G. Kane, a West Vincent Township resident and retired Air Force colonel, wondered if the county could partner with the Veterans’ Administration to enhance revenue through some services. He also urged the commissioners to explore environmental options such as geo-wells – and government grants to fund them. “People like Andy Dinniman can go get you some money,” he said.

In her brief summation at the end of the meeting, Commissioner Kathi Cozzone joined her colleagues in thanking the audience for its participation. “I encourage you to continue to come to meetings,” she said. “I certainly understand the value of Pocopson Home in our community.”

Those who are unable to attend the meetings, which are being videotaped, can view them on the county web site, said county spokeswoman Rebecca Brain.

The Pocopson Home, which is located on Route 52 in Pocopson Township, offers care for adults of all ages as well as professional medical, nursing and rehabilitation services. It is certified by both the Medicare and Medicaid programs and also accepts private-paying residents for admission.

Posted by: webmaster | May 3, 2012

Commissioner Kathi Cozzone on May 2, 2012, at the demolition site in South Coatesville. County funds helped pay for the demolition of several buildings, so this area can now be rebuilt and added to the tax roles.


 
 
4/9/2012

Gov. Corbett’s gift resembles a Trojan horse

For many years, the county commissioners have been asking the state for more flexibility in spending state dollars. Counties’ needs vary from one county to another and the commissioners need the authority to direct limited funds to the areas with the most need. Too often we are left with unnecessarily difficult choices when demand for certain services rise beyond projections. Without any flexibility, we can’t shift funds from areas with less demand.

This year, Gov. Tom Corbett has included this new flexibility in his budget proposal – with a catch. He would roll seven different funding streams from the state into one Human Services Development block grant. The problem is that this new block grant would represent a 20 percent cut in the total of those seven line items from the previous budget!

What at first seems like a gracious gift from the governor turns out to resemble the Trojan horse. In Chester County, this gift is estimated to result in a $5 million cut to critical human services, some of which have been cut each year for nearly a decade.

The programs in question cannot absorb these cuts. These programs provide help for people with mental health diagnoses and intellectual disabilities and the families that care for them. They pay for drug and alcohol addiction treatments that keep people out of prison. They provide funding to help the homeless and protect children.

How can we allow a 20 percent cut to funds that help us keep people off the streets and help families who care for intellectually disabled loved ones to keep them out of institutions?

In addition to the block grant, the governor also proposes cuts to reimbursements for seniors in nursing homes and the Medical Assistance Transportation program. It is difficult to fathom how the county will deal with all of these funding cuts if the Legislature does not intervene. My fear is that the Legislature will restore part of the funding but still leave us scrambling to make up for a loss of funds for important programs yet again.

My hope is that we do not see a repeat of last year, where the governor and Legislature touted their ability to avoid state income or sales tax increases, while they cut funding for local schools and county programs, forcing many counties and school districts to raise property taxes instead. Chester County avoided raising taxes last year, but we may not have the ability to do it again without significant cuts to our services.

I urge the governor and our state legislators to fund important county services for our most vulnerable citizens to at least the level of last year’s budget, while keeping the flexibility that a block grant would allow. Chester County can’t afford the current proposal’s cuts, no matter how they’re packaged.

Kathi Cozzone
County commissioner

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