911 Consolidation Expected to Save Costs and Improve Safety

Columbia and Montour counties are working toward the consolidation of 911 systems to save costs long-term and improve emergency response. As Montour County is implementing GIS mapping as part of the consolidation, some businesses and residences will have address changes. Despite this inconvenience and the possibility of associated costs, the Chamber Board supports the process.

The counties have been discussing consolidation for many months as a way to save costs associated with periodic equipment upgrades. In Montour County, the lack of GIS mapping can lead to confusion and delayed response time for emergency personnel, particularly in more rural areas. Considering the goal of improving response time and safety, the Chamber Board voted unanimously to support the consolidation last Tuesday.

Address changes are not anticipated to be implemented until at least April, 2017. Affected residences and businesses will be notified by the County. The Post Office will also recognize the old and new address for those impacted for a period of one year.

Employers Urged to Assess New Overtime Eligibility Regulations

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule aimed at expanding overtime eligibility to millions of American workers. With an effective date of December 1, employers are left with little time to review the classifications of workers currently treated as exempt under the white collar exemption and communicate changes to employees. At the September Learn at Lunch held last Tuesday, Amy Britton and Marcia Cooney with Bucknell University provided an overview of the new rule and considerations for employers. A number of additional resources are provided in this article.

The DOL’s final rule increases the minimum salary employers must pay white collar workers to maintain their exempt status from $455 to $913 per week, but does not make any changes to the job duties test. The Chamber’s member benefits provider, ChamberChoice, has provided a summary of the key provisions of the new overtime rule. The DOL has held several webinars explaining the changes, including information specifically for non-profit organizations, which are archived for viewing. Guidance on calculating overtime is also available through the DOL website.

Bloomsburg Council Approves Saturday Parking Meter Enforcement

On Monday, Bloomsburg Town Council voted unanimously to begin enforcing parking meters on Saturdays in the downtown commercial district. The stated reason for adding Saturday enforcement is to prevent the “warehousing” of vehicles in public spaces. While The Chamber supports the goal of keeping parking available for customers, President Fred Gaffney asked for more careful consideration of the issue before implementing changes.

Council first considered changing enforcement times in December of last year. The Chamber was joined by dozens of local businesses in asking for additional data on the perceived issue of vehicle warehousing and the development of a more comprehensive strategy for managing Bloomsburg’s parking inventory. The issue was tabled and the Parking Sub-Committee created. As there wasn’t time to coordinate an additional study of downtown parking utilization prior to summer, no additional data has been collected to date. At the request of Council, the Sub-Committee recommended that parking meter enforcement be changed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The Chamber conducted a poll of downtown businesses to gather their input on the perceptions of parking availability. Of the 36 businesses that participated, only seven felt that parking availability was most difficult on evenings and/or weekends. Twenty-nine of the respondents, representing 81 percent, were opposed to Saturday enforcement, and only 3 businesses were in support. The results of the poll were provided to Council prior to Monday’s meeting. Despite this input, Council voted unanimously to implement the changes.

Police Chief Roger Van Loan anticipates the changes will take effect in approximately six weeks after the information on the meters is updated.

State ChamberPAC Issues Endorsements for General Election

Last Wednesday, ChamberPAC, the political arm of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry, announced its endorsements of state House and Senate candidates in the November General Election. Senator John Gordner and Reps. Kurt Masser (107th) and David Millard (109th) have been endorsed. ChamberPAC supports pro-job, pro-growth candidates and incumbent lawmakers who are dedicated to improving Pennsylvania’s business climate and growing the economy.

“If we truly want to move the Commonwealth forward, we need elected officials in Harrisburg who are committed to strengthening the state’s competitive edge and advancing policies that will allow the private sector to thrive and create jobs,” said PA Chamber President Gene Barr.  “On behalf of the state’s broad-based business community, we are proud to offer our support to these dynamic candidates and look forward to working with them in the upcoming legislative session.”

A full list of endorsed candidates is available here. In addition to the legislative candidates, ChamberPAC also endorsed John Rafferty for Pennsylvania Attorney General this June.

The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce does not endorse candidates and does not fund the ChamberPAC.

Learn About the New Overtime Pay Changes Over Lunch

After 12 years with no change, President Obama announced profound changes to the minimum salary threshold for employees to be considered exempt from overtime pay. This new threshold has caused concern for many employers and employees across the country. Ranging from the cost of basic compliance to the emotional reaction by employees on company morale, employers have many things to consider as they prepare to meet the new guidelines by December 1st.  Amy Britton and Marcia Cooney, both with Bucknell University, will review the requirements of the new FLSA changes at the September Learn at Lunch and will walk attendees through a number of factors for consideration.

The cost for this Learn at Lunch will be $15 and include lunch and drinks. Please note that this month’s event will be an hour and a half long and is sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities. Register by clicking here or call Eleanor at 570-784-2522.