Frequently Asked Questions

City Council

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How are Council seats filled?

The Home Rule Charter divides the City into six Council districts with a representative elected from each district.  Council members are elected by voters and serve four year terms.  The Council President is elected City-wide.
 
Three members of Council are elected every two years.  The Council President is elected during the local election alternate from the Mayoral election.
 

Who are the City Council members?

The 2012-2014 Council is composed of the following:

  • President of Council Francis Acosta
  • City Council District 1 Christopher Daubert
  • City Council District 2 Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz
  • City Council District 3 Dennis M. Sterner
  • City Council District 4 Stratton P. Marmarou
  • City Council District 5 Donna Reed
  • City Council District 6 Jeffrey S. Waltman
 
 
All powers not specifically given to others by the Home Rule Charter are exercised by City Council.  City Council acts as the legislative branch of City government.  
 

How can I contact/communicate with my council person?

You can contact any member of Council through the Council Office via:

  • Phone 610 655 6204 or E-mail council@readingpa.org
  • Post Office Mail 815 Washington Street, Reading PA 19601
  • Voicing concern to the Council staff office, located on the second floor in City Hall

You can also speak with City Council by calling in to the In Your District program, airing at 8 p.m. every Thursday on the BCTV MAC Channel 99.


What are the districts?

Under the Home Rule Charter, the City of Reading is divided into six districts, with each district electing one Council member. District-elected Council members are to represent the voice of their constituents and are to act as a body to make decisions in the best interest of the entire City. Boundaries mapping out the six districts of the City can be found on the City website. The President of Council is elected at-large. The President of Council is the presiding officer of Council and has the same voting powers as the other six Council members. The President interacts with the Mayor and other governmental entities and represents the voice of Council.

 

 
You can determine which Council district you live in by clicking on the Council Districts Map link on the Council page of the City’s website or by calling Council staff at 610-655-6204.
 

Who is the City Clerk and what is her function?

Linda A. Kelleher is the City Clerk for the City of Reading and has been serving City Council since she was first appointed in January 1996. The City Clerk acts as the Secretary to the Council, or Secretary to the Board of Directors. The City Clerk is the Director of the Legislative Branch, responsible for managing the operations of City Council by providing leadership and administrative support, implementing Council policies and providing quality services to the people of Reading.The City Clerk maintains accurate legislative records and performs other services to the body of Council such as public relations, drafting and reviewing ordinances, legal research and acting as a liaison with the City Administration and other entities. The City Clerk assists Council in areas such as setting agendas, developing a Council Action Plan and coordinating appointments for the City's Boards, Authorities and Commissions.


What are the various council meetings? Where and when are they held?

Council meetings are held on Monday evenings. The meeting schedule is listed at the bottom of each regular meeting agenda.

  • First Monday 5 p.m. - Nominations and Appointments Committee and Strategic Planning Committee– Council Office
  • Second Monday 5 p.m. – Committee of the Whole – Council Office
  • Second Monday 7 p.m. – Regular Council Meeting – Council Chambers
  • Third Monday 5 p.m. - Nominations and Appointments Committee (if needed), Finance, Audit, and Budget Committee, and Standards of Living Committee  – Council Office
  • Fourth Monday 5 p.m. - Committee of the Whole – Council Office
  • Fourth Monday 7 p.m. - Regular Council Meeting - Council Chambers

Additional meetings are added and advertised as needed through newsprint or City website announcement (readingpa.gov).

 
Council agendas are posted on the City’s website – www.readingpa.gov – by the Thursday preceding the meeting on the Council page.  Meeting minutes are posted on the website several days after the meeting.  You can also request them by calling 610-655-6204 or emailing council@readingpa.org.
 

How can I obtain a copy of an Ordinance or Resolution?

Our City laws are located at the Code of Ordinances link on our web site. If you cannot print the law you are interested in, please call the Council Office at 610 655 6204 to request a copy or for assistance. The online Code of Ordinances is updated electronically with the passage of legislation.  

Legislation from 2009 - present, both ordinances and resolutions, is available on the City’s website by clicking “New Ordinances and Resolutions” in the “Open Government” box along the left side of the home page.


Can I address Council at their meetings?

You can address the body of Council at their Regular Business Meetings held on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month and at Public Hearings held to address specific topics. Council does not allow public comment at Committee Meetings, Committee of the Whole Sessions.

Citizens wishing to address the Council at its regular meetings may do so by giving notice verbally or in writing by providing their name, address and the subject matter to be discussed to the City Clerk before 5 PM the day of the meeting. Citizens can register by calling 610-655-6204 or by entering their information in this form. Citizens may also register by printing their information on the form provided on the speaker podium in Council Chambers after 5 pm and before the start of the meeting. 

Citizens speaking on agenda issues may speak for up to five minutes at the beginning of the meeting. Those speaking on general matters may speak for up to three minutes after the Council action on the legislative matter is complete. When the City Clerk signals that your time is complete, we ask that you quickly conclude your remarks and be seated.

 

 
Citizens who are interested in matters before Council but who cannot attend meetings in person have two other options.  Meetings are televised live on the MAC Channel (Comcast channel 99) and through the City’s website.  Simply scroll to the bottom of the home page and click “Live and Archive Meeting Videos”.
 

Where can I find information about the City's Boards, Authorities and Commissions?

For information on the City’s Boards, Authorities and Commissions click on the “Authorities or  Boards & Commissions” menu item on the website main menu  or by contacting the Council Office at 610 655 6204 or via e-mail, council@readingpa.org.


How can I apply to be on the City's Boards, Authorities and Commissions?

If you would like to serve on one of the City’s Boards, Authorities and Commissions click here, print an application, fill it out and mail it to the Council Office – 815 Washington Street, Reading PA 19601. If you cannot print a copy, call the Council Office at 610 655 6204 to request one and the Council staff will be happy to assist you.


What is the Code of Ethics? How can I obtain a copy of the Code of Ethics?

The proper operation of democratic government requires that public officials and employees be independent, impartial and responsible to the people; that government decisions and policy be made in the proper channels of governmental structure; that public office is not to be used for personal gain; and that the public have confidence in the integrity of its government.

In recognition of these goals, there is an established Code of Ethics to be administered by the Board of Ethics. The purpose of this Code is to establish ethical standards of conduct for all officials and employees of the City of Reading, its agencies and authorities, whether elected or appointed, paid or unpaid, by providing guidelines to clarify actions or inactions which are incompatible with the best interests of the City and by directing disclosure of private, financial or other interests in matters affecting the City.

The provisions and purpose of this Code and such rules, regulations, opinions and disciplinary decisions as may be promulgated by the Board Pursuant hereto, and under provisions of Article XII of the Charter, are hereby declared to be in the best interest of the City.

The Code of Ethics is located on the City website. If you would like a bound copy, please contact the Council Office by calling 610 655 6204 or via e-mail, council@readingpa.org.


How can I make a complaint to the Board of Ethics?

Any person may file a complaint about alleged ethics violations of the Reading Code of Ethics or the City Charter. A complaint form may be requested through the Board of Ethics liaison, Michelle Katzenmoyer, by calling 610 655 6205, upon request from the Council staff office, or by clicking here. In addition, the Board may initiate proceedings by its own action.

A person signing a complaint shall:

  • Reasonably believe in the existence of facts upon which the claim is based.
  • Reasonably believe that the complaint may be valid under the ethics provisions of the Code of Ethics and the City Charter.No official or employee may be penalized for a good faith filing of a complaint with the Ethics Board, or providing information or testifying in any Board proceeding. An employee may not be discharged, suffer change in his/her official rank, grade or compensation, be denied a promotion or be threatened as a result of any of the above.

All Board proceedings and records relating to an investigation are confidential until a final determination is made by the Board, except as may be required by due process. The final order is a public record. All other file material must remain confidential. The Board, however, may release the identity of a complainant if it has determined that there has been a wrongful use of the Code of Ethics.


What is the Home Rule Charter? How can I obtain a copy of the Charter?

The Home Rule Charter acts as the “Constitution” for the City of Reading. It sets the operational rules for our government. The City Administrative Code, found in the Codified Ordinances, is used to further define Charter provisions. Copies of the Home Rule Charter may be acquired through publication provision of the City Council staff office and it is also available on our website.


What is the Charter Board? How can I make a complaint to the Charter Board?

The Charter Board, created under the 1st Amendment to the Home Rule Charter, hears and decides all complaints alleging violations of the Charter and Administrative Code. This Board is also responsible for providing orientation for all elected officials.

Charter complaint forms can be obtained on the City’s web site, by phone or e-mailing the Council Office at 610 655 6204 or council@readingpa.org.

A person signing a complaint shall:
  • Reasonably believe in the existence of facts upon which the claim is based.
  • Reasonably believe that the complaint may be valid under the City Charter and/or Administrative Code. No official or employee may be penalized for a good faith filing of a complaint with the Charter Board, or providing information or testifying in any Board proceeding. An employee may not be discharged, suffer change in his/her official rank, grade or compensation, be denied a promotion or be threatened as a result of any of the above.
All Board proceedings and records relating to an investigation are confidential until a final determination is made by the Board, except as may be required by due process. The final order is a public record. All other file material must remain confidential. The Board, however, may release the identity of a complainant if it has determined that there has been a violation of the Charter and/or Administrative Code.
 


What is the difference between Commission Government and Home Rule Government?

The State provides for three forms of government in Pennsylvania:

  • Commission – established under the Third Class City Code
  • Optional Third Class Charter Law – established under the Third Class City Code in 1957
  • Home Rule Charter Optional – established by the State General Assembly in 1972, apart from the Third Class City Code

The Commission Form of government has a Mayor and City Councilors all elected at-large. The Mayor presides over Council meetings but has no additional power. Al these elected officials perform executive duties and direct the city departments. Under the Commission form there is no single or administrative officer to oversee the operations of the City.

Home Rule Charter Optional provided for 2 structures:

  • Strong Mayor / Part-time Council
  • Council / Manager

Reading voters approved the Home Rule Charter Optional form of government with a Strong Mayor / Part-time Council in the November 1993 General Election. The executive, administrative and law enforcement powers of the City are vested in the Mayor. The Mayor shall control and be accountable for the executive branch of City government.

City Council is the legislative body having all powers of the City not otherwise provided for in this Charter, exercised in a manner to be determined by Council. Council shall provide for the exercise and performance of any such other powers and duties in a manner consistent with the terms of the Charter. All powers of the City shall be exercised as provided by the Charter, or if the Charter makes no provision, as provided by ordinances or resolutions of the City Council.

The Charter defines the City’s Departments and sets out requirements for professional department directors, who report to the City’s Managing Director, appointed by the Mayor and approved by Council.


What records are stored in the City Clerk’s Office?

The City Clerk's Office houses a variety of current and old city records.

The City of Reading Code of Ordinances has many features in addition to the current city laws. This book provides references to applicable state and federal legislation. The Code of Ordinances also includes a key that provides the disposition of all city streets, improvements, vacations, etc. The key can also provide the researcher with the history and disposition of city ordinances. The Code of Ordinances have been available on-line since 1999, with updates done annually. The Code of Ordinances can also be found in the Main Branch of the Reading Public Library and the Berks County Law Library.

The office also holds the Journals of Council that include the ordinances and resolutions adopted dating back to 1854. Other old records include departmental reports, solicitor's opinions, Board of Health records, tax assessment records, Water Bureau reports, etc. Unfortunately, record retention and archiving diminished between the 1960's and 1995. In 1996 staff in the City Council/City Clerk's Office restored the practice of records retention and archiving, and the staff is currently working to digitize current and old city records so they are more accessible to the public.


What records are considered “public” by Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Act?

These are public records that must be disclosed under Pennsylvania's Right to Know Act:

  • Accounts, vouchers or contracts dealing with the receipt or disbursement of funds or the acquisition, use or disposal of services or supplies, materials, equipment or other property (includes canceled checks and cell phone bills paid by the county)
  • Minutes, orders or decisions by an agency fixing the personal or property rights, privileges, immunities, duties or obligations of any person or group of persons
  • Reports, communications or other papers pertaining to safety and health in industrial plants
  • Records of a conviction for a criminal act In addition, Pennsylvania courts have ruled that the following records are subject to inspection and copying under the Right to Know Act:
  • Code of Ethics and manuals fixing duties and obligations regarding the treatment of state inmates
  • Penn DOT contract to perform emissions inspection
  • Department of Welfare: Nursing home settlement and appeal activity reports • Real estate appraisals performed in connection with a city's effort to acquire property (held to fix personal or property rights of the owners of the property affected)
  • A report prepared by a hospital accreditation commission for welfare department
  • A township's and municipality's canceled checks
  • Arrest warrant affidavits, unless court order says otherwise
  • Examination papers and scores of applicants for civil service jobs
  • Records of retired state employees
  • Attendance record cards of professional employees of school districts
  • The building record portion of property records (containing construction specifications) maintained by county boards for the assessment and revision of taxes
  • Accident reports and certain studies conducted by the Commonwealth concerning the accidents
  • Completed reports prepared by the Department of Labor and Industry on safety and health in industrial plants
  • The review and refund docket of the Board of Finance and Revenue
  • The list of names and addresses of kindergarten children in a school district
  • Police payroll records
  • Lists of people taking CPA exams
  • Addresses to which a school district forwarded the scholastic records of former pupils
  • Lists of delinquent taxpayers
  • Subscriber lists for magazines published by the Commonwealth
  • Crime, death and accident reports filed with the police department
  • Names and addresses of public high school graduating classes
  • Evaluations of state psychiatric institutions compiled by a commission which prescribes standards for hospitals participating in certain federally funded programs
  • Statistical data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education on the racial and ethnic composition, by school district, of programs for exceptional children
  • Settlement agreement in police brutality lawsuit
  • A list of unclaimed checks held by the state Treasury Department
  • Escheat records of abandoned and unclaimed property held by the Department of Revenue
  • Hearing transcripts of testimony and evidence from an electric utility base rate case before the PUC

Although individual agencies still may agree to release the following information, Pennsylvania courts have ruled that these records are NOT subject to inspection or copying under the Right to Know Act:

  • A Pennsylvania Insurance Department investigative file on a licensee
  • Psychological, staffing and job evaluations made to complete a state prisoner's suit against Department of Corrections officials in regards to parole consideration
  • Criminal pre-sentence reports and related psychiatric and psychological reports
  • Notice of compensation records from Bureau of Workers Compensation
  • Correspondence and memoranda by Department of General Services concerning request for proposals to lease office space to government agency
  • Information relating to assignment of assistant district attorneys to specific cases
  • The contents of a contractual settlement between a school board and a teacher
  • Field investigation notes taken by city planning department staff to report to a city council member
  • Departmental budget reports required by the budget secretary (held to be a statement of facts and events, not an "account" consisting of debits and credits)
  • Names, addresses and amounts received by welfare recipients
  • Contents of a teacher's personnel file maintained by the school district
  • Financial disclosure statements voluntarily submitted in response to executive orders requesting such statements from members of the governor’s cabinet and members of certain agencies
  • Financial information regarding the operation of state-related universities
  • Physical fitness reports and promotional evaluation reports of police departments
  • The name of a person who accused a police officer of receiving stolen property as well as the police department's files on the investigation of the complaint
  • "Raw data" compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for a study on the connection between the Three Mile Island accident and birth defects
  • Information from tax returns filed with a municipality and results of tax audits
  • Plans for special education programs submitted to, but not acted on, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education
  • Request for the statements and notes of testimony of alleged co-defendants, as well as requests for all relevant newspaper clippings and articles dealing with a criminal case
  • Job applications that were not reviewed
  • Police investigative reports
  • Audio tape recordings of 911 telephone calls
  • Urinalysis reports from halfway houses
  • Legal opinions from solicitors and attorneys that are not essential components of agency decisions • Inmates' medical and mental health records

 

 
Right to Know request forms are available at City Hall at the Law Department.  The City’s Right to Know policy is available on the City’s website in the “Open Government” box on the left of the home page.  There is also a link to the form on the Law Department page.
 
The form must be completed and returned to the City’s Law Department, 815 Washington St, Reading, PA  19601.  Please call 610-655-6208 with additional questions.
 

What is Citizen Initiative and Referendum?

Citizen Initiative and Referendum are two ways that citizens not holding political office may present legislation for the City. The two opportunities are as follows:

Initiative: The qualified voters of the City shall have the power to propose ordinances to the Council. If the Council fails to adopt such an ordinance, the initiative process would place the proposed ordinance before the voters as a referendum at an election, providing the City voters with the opportunity to adopt or reject the ordinance at a City election.

Referendum: The qualified voters of the City shall have the power to require reconsideration by the Council of any adopted ordinance. If the Council fails to repeal an ordinance so reconsidered, the Referendum process may be commenced giving the qualified voters of the City the opportunity to approve or reject said ordinance at a City election.

For more detail, please contact the Council Office by calling 610 655 6204 or e-mail to council@readingpa.org.


Can the Council Office help me with a complaint about City Services?

The Council Office can take a concern or complaint about City Services, and work with the appropriate City department(s) to efficiently rectify the problem. In addition, Council members note problematic trends in order to improve upon or implement any additional services that benefit the City. If you have a concern that the City Clerk or City Council can assist with, contact the Council staff office at 610 655 6204, via e-mail council@readingpa.org or by writing to 815 Washington Street Reading, PA 19601.

 

 
In 2013, City Council enacted new campaign finance reporting regulations as recommended by the City Board of Ethics.  A summary of the requirements are:
 
Campaign Limits
 
The Code of Ethics sets limits for campaign contributions for both election years and non-election years as follows:
  • Election year:
    • Maximum contribution by individuals - $2,600
    • Maximum contribution by organizations - $10,000
    • Maximum contribution by campaign committees - $10,000
  • Non-Election year:
    • Mayor – contributions may not exceed $250,000 per year
    • Auditor – contributions may not exceed $100,000 per year
    • City Council (including Council President) – contributions may not exceed $100,000 per year
  • Post Election
    • Maximum contribution by individuals - $2,600
    • Maximum contribution by organizations - $10,600
 
Pre-Candidacy contributions may not be used to influence the outcome of an election, on transition or inauguration expenses, or to retire debt incurred on a completed election.
 
These limits do not include volunteer labor.
 
Financial Disclosure
 
Candidates may have only one political committee and one checking account.  Other funds may not be used to influence an election or to retire debt incurred.
 
Candidates must notify the City of Reading Board of Ethics when a political committee is formed and must submit the following information to the Board of Ethics:
  • Name of the Committee
  • Mailing Address
  • Bank Name
  • Bank Information
  • Committee Treasurer Name
  • Any other information as required by the Board of Ethics
 
Candidates must file a Financial Interest Statement and provide a copy to the Board of Ethics.
 
Candidates must submit a copy of their State report of receipts and expenditures to the office of the City Clerk along with a written statement signed by the filer swearing that the information is true and correct.
 
Publication
 
These provisions will be published every six months and will be available on the City of Reading website – www.readingpa.gov on the Board of Ethics page – at all times.
 
 
Please call the Berks County Election Services offices at 610-478-6490 or visit their website at www.co.berks.pa.us and click on Election Services.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Community Development

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How do I open a business in the City of Reading?

Your first step to opening your own business is to visit or call the zoning office to make an appointment to meeting with one of our Zoning Administrators. Detailed information on the steps to start a business and a variety of resources can be also be found on our website.


What does Reading have to offer my business and why should I move or expand my business to Reading?

The advantages to moving your business to Reading are clear; there are 100 million people who have easy access to your business. The City is only 55 miles from Philadelphia, 125 miles from New York and 145 miles from Washington D.C. The City has a skilled and diverse work force. You’ll find that doing business in the City will be most cost efficient as we have many sites and buildings to match your needs. For additional information, contact the Reading Redevelopment Authority at 610-655-6025 or visit their website.


What are the incentives?

To view the incentives that are offered in the City of Reading, click here.


How do I apply for a small business loan?

Information on how to apply for a small business loan can be found on our Business Financing Programs webpage.


What is going on in Reading in terms of economic development?

Information on Economic Development in the Reading area can be found on the Greater Reading Economic Partnership website.


Where can I find a site for my business?

Please click here.


How/where do I get zoning information?

Anyone who is interested in zoning information is encouraged to visit our office in City Hall, room 3-03.


How do I apply for a business license?

You must visit the Citizens Service Center in City Hall, room 1-27 to apply for you new business license.


How do I purchase an Our City Reading (OCR)/Boscov House?

You may contact an OCR representative by calling 610-370-3990 and someone will be able to assist you with obtaining an application.


Does this office provide assistance to private landlords?

At this time, the City does not have any programs that can be offered to private landlords.


How do I purchase a home if I am a low to moderate income family?

You can contact the following organizations for assistance.

Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) at 610-372-8433

Habitat For Humanity at 610-373-3439


How do I get a home repair loan?

Call Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) at 610-372-8433


How many historic districts are located within the City of Reading?

There five historic districts in the City of Reading: Callowhill, Prince, Centre Park, Penn’s Common and the Queen Anne District.


Are all of the City’s historic districts regulated?

No. Only the Callowhill, Prince, Centre Park and Penn’s Common Historic Districts are locally regulated by the Reading Board of Historical Architectural Review (HARB). The Queen Anne Historic District is Reading’s only National Register District and changes to structures located within its boundaries are not subject to review by the HARB.


What is the difference between a National Register Historic District and a locally regulated district?

A National Register Historic District is a district that has been designated by the National Park Service as worthy of preservation and therefore has been placed in the National Register of Historic Places, a federal list of historically significant resources. National Register districts may or may not be locally regulated but are afforded some protection by municipality oversight when federal funds are used in a project that may have a negative effect on historic resources. A locally regulated historic district is a district established by a municipality that may be listed in or is eligible to the National Register of Historic Places. A locally regulated district is governed and protected by the Historic District Ordinance which establishes a review board (HARB) to review changes to buildings. Listing in the National Register of Historic Places does not necessarily protect buildings within a historic district from being altered or demolished whereas the historical integrity of structures located within a local historic district are provided protection through the Historic District Ordinance


What are the rules and regulations for properties located within a historic district?

If a property is located within one of Reading’s four local historic districts, all proposed exterior changes that can be seen from a public right of way require review by the HARB. The Preservation Officer has been authorized to approve certain in kind building improvements and painting of exterior surfaces. Certain proposed improvements may require review by City Council as per the Historic District Ordinance. The first step in the HARB process is to complete a Certificate of Appropriateness application.


What is a Certificate of Appropriateness and how do I obtain one?

A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is required for all new construction and exterior alterations to structures in a historic district that can be seen from a public right of way, including those visible from public streets and alleys. The application must be completed to include all specifications for proposed exterior work (submit paint color samples, material samples, and detailed drawings illustrating finished dimensions for signs, new construction and alterations). Apply to the Historic Preservation Officer for a COA prior to obtaining any required building permits. A COA application is available from the City’s Historic Preservation Office, City Hall, 815 Washington Street, Room 3-03, Reading, PA, 19601and on the website.


When does the HARB hold its meetings?

The HARB meets every third Tuesday of the month and COA applications must be submitted to the Preservation Officer ten working days before the regularly scheduled meeting. The meetings are open to the public


Do I need to attend the HARB meeting?

Attendance is not mandatory but is strongly recommended. If a property owner or person representing the project is not in attendance and therefore cannot answer pertinent questions, the HARB may table its review until the owner can attend and more information on the project can be obtained.


How long does the HARB approval process take?

The HARB will review a project at the regular monthly meeting and in most cases will issue approval for a COA at the hearing. Once the COA is issued, a building permit may be obtained.

Finance

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Role of Finance:  The role of Finance is to create a unified city accounting system. Finance is responsible for the administration of activities that include:  the receipt, expenditure, accounting, investment, custody and control of municipal funds and assets including the budget (both operating and capital); financial accounting, which shall be conducted according to generally accepted accounting principles; investments and insurance; payroll; pension administration; materials management; and all other financial matters that may arise.
 
 
 
All fees that are paid in person are to be paid in the Treasury Office located on the first floor (room 1-33) in City Hall.
 
 
 
If it is simply a change from one City location to another (and not to a location out of the City), an e-mail, fax, or letter giving the complete change of address (and/or phone number if applicable), along with the effective date of the change is sufficient. However, if the change of address is to an out-of City location, the City will have to have notification in writing from the owner(s), i.e. proprietor, partners, or officers, notifying us of the out of business date.  
 
 
 
  1. If the change of “ownership” is simply a sale of the corporate stock, and there is no change to the business’ Federal ID number, than the City only requires the change to be in writing as detailed in 1) above.
  2. If the change of “ownership” involves more than a simple stock transfer, i.e. there is a new Federal ID number assigned to the “new” entity, the old owner(s) must notify the City accordingly [see 1 above] of its “out of business” date and the new owner(s) must follow the procedures to apply for a new Business Privilege License and be treated as a new business.
 
 
 
All entities (or individuals filing Schedule C’s who are not considered employees of another) must obtain a Business Privilege License every calendar year (or part of the calendar year that it has operated or will operate).  Along with the Business Privilege License requirement, all entities must file and pay Business Privilege Tax every calendar year.
 
All entities that have employees must submit payment of the Earned Income Tax (3.6% for City of Reading residents in their employ; 1.3% for non-City residents), as well as the Emergency Municipal Services Tax-$52 per person per year.  (Sole proprietors and all general partners of partnerships are required to submit payment of the Emergency Municipal Services Tax as well.)  It is important to note that all entities must register with the City PRIOR to submitting these payroll taxes.  “Registering” means applying for a Business Privilege License; non-profit entities with employees must register with the City and provide proof of their 501(c) or 501 (c)(3) status (to be properly exempted from the Business Privilege Tax requirements).
 
 
 
Business Privilege is the only license filed with the City of Reading Customer Service Center.
 
 
The function of the Purchasing Division is to procure the highest quality commodities and services that meet the City's needs at the least expense.  The purchasing process includes planning and scheduling purchases, seeking competition, assuring the preparation of proper specifications and enforcing compliance with all purchasing regulations and procedures.  This Division also manages in-house printing operations.
 
 
 
Verbal or written price quotes are required for purchases over $500 and under $10,000, a written record of which is maintained.
 
Purchases over $10,000 not considered a professional service require a formal bid solicitation through advertising.  Vendors are required to submit sealed bids accompanied by a bid surety.
 
Unless otherwise determined by the Managing Director, any purchase of professional services in amounts exceeding $10,000 must be made by written contract and initiated by a Request for Proposal.
 
 
 
Besides property tax businesses are require to pay the following taxes.
 
Employees working in the City of Reading are required to pay EMS Tax of $52 per year. The $52 dollars is to be automatically deducted by employers. Employers are required to remit payment to the City within 4 months of employees start date.
 
Businesses must also pay a Business Privilege Tax. More information on the Business Privilege Tax can be found here.
 
 

Fire & Rescue

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The purpose of emergency warning equipment is to let drivers and pedestrians know that an emergency vehicle is on the way to an emergency. By Pennsylvania state law, we do have certain privileges extended to us. Those being, to carefully proceed through controlled intersections and travel against the designated flow of traffic. These privileges have rules that the legislation and department policy put on the drivers of these emergency vehicles. The main rule is that we cannot do these things unless there are lights flashing and sirens going. Even in the middle of the night.
 
 
A.  To ensure the most effective service at the time of an emergency, our crews must remain in their designated response territory with their fire trucks during their entire shift. Our crews work 10 and 14-hour shifts with no scheduled breaks, and meals are not provided by the City. Personnel on each shift must purchase their own food and prepare their own meals, so they may make a daily trip to the grocery store within their first due neighborhood to buy whatever they need to prepare their meals for the entire shift.
 
Fire and Medic crews do not have to be sitting in the fire station to be dispatched to a call. Since all City units maintain constant radio contact with Fire Communications and the entire crew must always be together with their truck, they are always ready to respond to any emergency, regardless of their current location or non-emergency assignment. Very often, our firefighters and paramedics spend long periods of their day running calls, without returning to the station or stopping to eat, and they frequently have to return to the grocery store several times to finish purchasing food that they might not get a chance to cook during the shift.
 
 
 A fire truck will sometimes arrive at an incident first because it is the closest emergency unit to the scene and we are committed to getting help to your location as fast as possible. The City has six fire stations spaced strategically around the City and one ambulance station. All firefighters are trained to provide basic emergency medical treatment. Since there are only three paramedic units in the City, firefighters respond to all calls involving life-threatening symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pains, and severe bleeding. They initiate treatment to stabilize patients and provide information to the paramedics en route to the call so they will be aware of any additional advanced life support equipment that will be needed on the scene.
 
 
When a patient is transported to a hospital/medical facility, the fee will be one of the following:
 
 
Each fire truck only carries two firefighters and it is necessary to have enough firefighters on the scene of an incident. There are a number of specialized roles that firefighters undertake at the scene of a fire, and firefighting is a very labor-intensive activity. If you get behind because there are not enough firefighters on the call, it is more difficult to extinguish a fire quickly.
 
 
No.
 
 
Please visit this page on our website. We suggest contacting us at least 30 days in advance prior to the desired tour date.  We can then schedule your tour at the closest fire station.
 
 
You can arrange to receive an incident report by calling the Department of Fire and Rescue Services at 610-655-6080. There is a fee of $35.00 for each report. Reports for medical incidents can be acquired by calling 610-655-XXXX (Ambulance station).
 
 
The City of Reading Department of Fire and Rescue Services purchases a limited number of smoke alarms for distribution to City of Reading residents who may otherwise not be able to afford them (see above section for more information). If you can afford a smoke alarm but have a question or concern regarding installation of your own smoke alarm, please contact the Office of the Fire Marshal at 610-655-6080.
 
 
You can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Child Safety Seat Inspection Station Locator website to find a location near you.  The City of Reading, Department of Fire and Rescue Services does not offer child safety seat installation and inspection program.
 

Human Resources

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What is the function of the Human Resources?

The Human Resources is responsible for organizing, directing and administering programs involving employment, salary, benefits, labor relations and risk and safety management in compliance with applicable Federal, State, and Local law.


What type of employment opportunities are currently available with the City of Reading?

Please refer to the Employment Opportunities page under Human Resources.


How do I apply for employment with the City of Reading?

Please refer the Employment Opportunities page under Human Resources.


How do I contact the Human Resources?

Monday thru Friday, 8 am to 4 pm:

Human Resources Department
City of Reading
815 Washington Street – Room 2-39
Reading, PA 19601
FAX: 610/372-3722
EMAIL: jobs@readingpa.org

Police Department

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How do I apply for the Reading Police Department?

We administer a written test before we hand out applications. If you pass the test, you know before you leave and are then given an application. Please arrive EARLY for the test and have photo identification with you. You must be 21 on the date of the test to take the test. Keep a check on this web site for information regarding test dates and location. 

 
You contact the Reading Police Academy or get information on the process by checking our web page on the Police Academy.
 
 
If the license plate is expired OR the Inspection sticker (the one with the M on it) is expired, then it can be considered abandoned and you can contact the Traffic Law Enforcement Office at 610-655-6294 or by submitting this report.
 
 
Call the police department main phone number at 610-655-6116, tell them why you think it is stolen and have them come out and check it.
 
 
YES, the Police Department is open and manned 24 hours a day and you can always reach them at 610-655-6116.
 
 
Protection Orders are obtained at the Berks County Courthouse.
 
 
NO, Protection Orders are only for people with whom you have had an intimate relationship or who are a family member.
 
 
Police officers or public officers shall investigate alleged incidents of disruptive conduct. They shall complete a disruptive conduct report upon a finding that the reported incident constitutes disruptive conduct as defined herein. The information filed in said report shall include, if possible, the identity of the alleged perpetrators of the disruptive conduct and all other obtainable information, including the factual basis for the disruptive conduct described on the prescribed form. A copy of the disruptive conduct report shall be given or mailed to the occupant and mailed to the owner and local responsible agent within 10 working days of the occurrence of the alleged disruptive conduct. More information about Disruptive Conduct Reports can be found here.
 

Public Works

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How do I report a problem with a traffic light?

Call the Public Works Department at (610) 655-6322


How do I report a problem with a traffic sign?

Call the Public Works Department at (610) 655-6295


Where is there current road work being done so I can avoid delays?

There is currently no paving projects or street/lane closures in effect from the engineering office.

 

What do the parks offer?

Playground program runs from June through August.  It offers all athletic activities, arts & crafts, music, and drama, field trips special events, athletic leagues, hockey, meal program, environmental program, skateboarding, nature center, swimming, and summer camp.

 

Where are the recreation activities located in the city?

3rd & spruce recreation Center located on 3rd & Spruce Sts.

11th & Pike recreation Center located on 11th & Pike Sts.

Keffer Park Field House located on 3rd & Exeter Sts.

Baer Park Field House located on W. Douglass & George Sts.

Pendora Park Field House located on 19th & Forrest Sts.

N.E.A.R. Centers- located in all areas of the city in Church basements.

(For additional information on the N.E.A.R. Center program contact Matt Lubas at (610) 655-6233)

 

What activities are offered at the recreation centers?

Athletic activities, adult volleyball, arts& crafts, music & drama, computer instruction, marbles, homework help, “kid’s café,” tennis instruction, flag football, chess, board games. pool, ping pong, table games, and much more.

(For additional information regarding the Recreation Center contact Matt Lubas at (610) 655-6233.)

(For information regarding the Field Houses contact Heather Boyer at (610) 655-6203)

 

Where are the public pools?

Schlegel Pool- is located on Lancaster Ave. and Route 10.

(For all information regarding the pool contact Matt Lubas at (610) 655-6233

 

What are the youth program activities and services?

Activities and services offered at the facilities are mentioned above.
 

Sanitary and storm sewer team common concerns and questions to reduce problem resolution time.

 

Catch Basin  
  • Can you see the top of the grate?
  • Is water able to get in the catch basin grate?
  • Is the top grate surface free of debris?
  • Is the basin clogged below the street surface?
 
Flooding 
  • Location – street, sidewalk, property, building
  • Is the water clear, muddy, or gray? 
  • Is anyone trapped or injured?
 
Manhole Lid Off (often called Caps, Lids, Covers)
  • What is the location?
  • Is it in a traffic lane?
  • Can you see the size and shape?  (Almost all City manhole lids are ~2 foot round while gas and water valve covers are smaller.  Most square covers are electric).
 
Odors
  • Where were you when noticed odor?
  • How long have you noticed it?
  • Would you describe the odor?  (Suggest the following to help the caller: sweet, sour, acidic, chemical, rotten egg, septic, raw wastewater)
 
Sewer Back Up or Clog 
  • What is the nature of the problem?
  • Is water coming up at the stacks at the curb in front of the house?
  • Is the water entering the house? Where in the house?
  • Has a licensed plumber already been contacted?
  • What is the property address?
 
Spills 
  • What and how much was spilled or leaked? (If necessary, contact Fire / HazMat)
  • Is it continuing to spill and spread or has it been contained?
  • What is the location?
  • Is it entering a manhole, catch basin, or stream?
 
Water in Basement 
  • What is the nature of the problem?
  • Where is the water entering the basement? (Pipe, floor drain, cracks in walls)
  • Is the water clear, muddy, or gray?
  • Is there any odor associated with it?
  • Is water continuing to enter the basement?  If so, how much or how fast?
  • Has a licensed plumber already been contacted?
  • What is the property address?

Trash and Recycling

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How does my trash get picked up?
Trash hauling services are provided once per week by Allied Waste Industries for residential pickup only with 5 or fewer apartments on a single lot.  All mixed use, commercial, institutional, and residential properties with 7 or more apartments on a single lot are required to have private haulers.  Please click here for more information.

Is there a limit for trash pickup and does Allied Waste Industries accept bulk items for trash pickup?
 Properties under the city’s contract may place the equivalent volume of eight 32-gallon cans each week for pickup.  In addition, one bulk item per week may be left at curbside.

How does my recycling get picked up?
Curbside recycling services for residential customers under the city’s contract are provided directly by city employees.  All mixed use, commercial, institutional, and residential properties with 5 or more apartments on a single lot are required to have private haulers. 

What materials are acceptable for recycling?
You may obtain a list of eligible recycling materials that are acceptable at both the recycling center and curbside by clicking here.

Where can I purchase recycling cans?
 The City’s green 32-gallon recycling cans may be picked up at the Citizen Service Center  at City Hall for no charge. 

What are some items that are NOT recyclable?
 Ceramics, dishes, coffee cups, drinking glasses, window glass, mirrors, light bulbs, Pyrex, Vision Ware, plastic bags, Styrofoam, bound books, paper cartons for milk or juice, tissues, coat hangers, food waste and containers of hazardous or toxic materials.  Please  click here for more information.

I just moved to Reading, how do I start up service for trash/recycling & billing?
 Residents will need to contact the Citizens Service Center at 1-877-727-3234.

How do I dispose of tires?
 To learn more about tire disposal, please click here.

Where do I recycle electronics?
 To learn more about how to dispose of electronic items, please click here.

General Questions

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There are so many things to see and do in Reading and the surrounding area. We take great pride in the quality of life in the area that includes the arts, sports, shopping, and skiing. Please visit the Reading Berks County Visitors Bureau’s website: http://www.readingberkspa.com. You may also request a Visitor’s Packet.
 
 
 
A marriage license can be obtained through the Marriage License Bureau is a division of the Berks County Register of Wills Office. Located on the second floor of the Berks County Services Center, 633 Court Street, Reading, the office is open Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Application for a marriage license must be made personally, with both parties appearing together. No appointment is necessary.
 
In addition, marriage applications can be made at your local District Justice Office and at Reading District Court (First Floor, Courthouse) by appointment only.
 
You may also visit Berks County’s website, click on Register of Wills and you will find all the answers you need.
 
 
 
The Berks County Office of Aging has the legal mandate to provide a wide array of services for seniors including: information and referral, advocacy, planning, senior centers, meals on wheels, assessment, care management and in home services. Any concerns regarding aging issues can be directed to the Berks County Office of Aging at 610-478-6500.
 
The vast majority of senior programming is administered through Berks County. The Senior Citizens Council is located at 40 North Ninth Street and the phone number is 610-374-3195. Informing, educating, advocating for those who have invested so much in their community. Their mission is to provide services, programs and referrals that engage, inform, educate and advocate for older Berks Countians.
 
 
 
In 1733, the site of present day Reading was chosen. It was set at the intersection of two great valleys, the east Penn-Lebanon Valley and the Schuylkill river. This site was known as Finney's Ford until 1743 when Thomas Lawrence, a Penn Land agent, made the first attempt at the layout for Reading. 
 
In 1748, the town was laid out by Thomas and Richard Penn, the sons of William Penn. The name was chosen after Penn's own county seat, Reading, in Berkshire, England. In 1752, Reading became the county seat of Berks county. 
 
During the French and Indian war, Reading became a military base for a chain of forts along the Blue Mountains. The local iron industry, by the time of the Revolution had a total production that exceeded that of England, a production that would help supply Washington's troops with weapons including cannons, rifles and ammunition. During the early period of the war, Reading was again a depot for military supply. Hessian prisoners from the battle of Trenton were also detained here. Reading bore it's appropriate burden during many wars including the Civil War and World War II. 
 
The Early part of the 19th century witnessed the great turnpike and canal era, succeeded by the building of the Reading Railroad, radiating in all directions from the City of Reading. The construction of the railroad was probably the single greatest factor in the development of Berks county. 
 
Agriculture is an important industry in Berks County...the largest and finest forms are in the southern part of the county. Berks ranks 3rd among all Pennsylvania counties in cash receipts from agriculture which total $73.9 million. Income derived from dairy production is $29.3 million; field and forage crops $25.7 million; poultry $10.2 million and meat animals $8.7 million. 
 
Today, the Reading is a city pulsating with industrial life. It is also well equipped with agencies that represent civilization at it's best-churches, hospitals, clubs, fraternal societies, recreational centers. schools and colleges, a historical society, an art institute as well as a daily newspaper. Reading claims the distinction of a symphony orchestra, two choral societies, a chamber musical ensemble, a civic opera company and many other excellent music groups that have contributed to the city's prestige as a center of art and culture.
 
Courtesy of the Reading & Berks Visitors Bureau. Additional information can be found at the Berks Historical Society at http://www.berkshistory.org/museum The Society's 20,000 artifacts tell many stories behind the development of the county. Three levels of museum exhibits interpret our colorful history from the Conestoga Wagon to the 1902 Duryea to toys, crafts, fine arts, all related to our social history. Here you can truly find your past. The Historical Society is located at 940 Centre Avenue.
 
 
 
Inoperable vehicles are “abandoned” according to state law, and are therefore subject to towing. (Section 7301 7312 of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code)
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Vehicle code defines “abandoned vehicles” as any of the following: 
  • Vehicle is physically inoperable and has remained on a public street, highway or alleyway for more than 48 hours.
  • Vehicle does not have all of the following: current registration plates, valid inspection (and emissions if applicable) stickers, ascertainable vehicle identification number and is left on a public street, highway or alleyway for more than 48 hours.
  • Vehicle has remained on private property without the consent of the owner or person in control of the property for more than 48 hours.
 
 
 
  • Police place "red" courtesy sticker giving vehicle owner seven days to move the vehicle. Vehicle is put on the tow list.
  • Certified letter is sent from the Reading Police Traffic Enforcement Office to the registered owner of the vehicle confirming that the owner has seven days to move the vehicle.
  • After seven days, vehicle will be towed by a state salvor. 
  • Owner may claim the vehicle from the salvor by paying the towing fee, the cost for vehicle storage and a state imposed fee of $50. In addition, the owner will be issued a citation for violation of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code, Section 3712. This violation is $500 plus court costs.
  • If the vehicle is moved to another location within the city and is still in violation, it will be towed immediately.
 
 
 
  • If vehicle is parked on private property without the owners permission; the following applies:
  • Property owner signs release for police to enforce law 
  • Police place red sticker on vehicle giving owner 7 days to remove
 
Letter is sent to owner advising of violation
 
  • After seven days, state salvor tows vehicle; owner is charged for towing, storage, $50 state fee and $500 citation violation.
 
 
 
· Unauthorized parked cars may be ticketed and towed immediately upon notification of the police by the property owner, if so posted.
 
 
 
  • It is illegal for any vehicle to be parked on the street in one spot for 72 hours. (Parking space is limited in the city and this is to discourage people from storing vehicles on public property. (City Ordinance 15-408)
  • Police may issue red sticker and certified letter giving owner seven days to remove vehicle. 
  • After seven days, state salvor tows vehicle; owner is charged for towing, storage, $50 state fee and $500 citation violation.
 
 
 
  • Any vehicle is considered a nuisance if it represents a safety hazard (broken windows, no wheels, ripped metal, doors missing, etc) and is parked on public or private property, with or without permission of property owner. 
  • Codes department may place a "green" courtesy sticker on vehicle giving vehicle owner 30 days to remove. 
  • After 30 days, state salvor tows vehicle; owner is charged for towing, storage, $50 state fee and $500 citation violation.
  • Police Department Contacts: 610-655-6407 Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 3:30 pm
  • Codes Department Contacts: 610-655-6214 or 610-655- 6215 Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
 
 
 
When a person has a snow/ice complaint, they have to contact the Desk Sergeant in City Hall first. After an officer is dispatched and a notice is given to the property owner. If no action is taken the complaint is then given to the Codes office.
 
 
 
You can view the Street Sweeping schedule on the signs posted on your block if you are on a permanant route. If you do not live on a permanent route, your street will get posted with a cardboard sign at least 12 hours before the sweeper comes through. We do 1 side at a time and if you don’t move your car it will get a ticket for $35.00. We try to get these streets at least 2 times a year. Any questions please call (610) 655-6285.
 
 
 
  • Yard Waste Collection. and Leaf Collection.
 
  1. The City collects loose leaves(not in containers) in the fall from last week in October through the 1 first week of December. Place leaf piles at the curbside during this period. After this period all leaves are to be in BIODEGRADABLE paper leaf bags(available in most stores). NO PLASTIC BAGS.
  2. City crews collect loose leaves along a preplanned route. Unfavorable weather conditions or unexpected equipment failures may affect the collection schedule.
  3. City crews will only pick up containerized or bagged leaves by appointment. Please call the Department of Public works at (610) 655-6285.
 
  • Tree Trimmings
  1. The city will pick up tree trimmings at the curbside by appointment only. The maximum pile for collection is 3’ in diameter and 4” long. Our service is intended to collect material generated from minor tree pruning and maintenance. IF YOU ARE REMOVING A TREE, OR PERFORMING MAJOR RELANDSCAPING, PLEASE MAKE ARRANGEMENTS WITH A CONTRACTOR TO REMOVE THE MATERIAL FOR YOU.

  2. Holiday trees may be taken to our drop off site in City Park or Schlegel Park between December 24th. And February 28th.

 
  • Will not pick up the following material
 
  1. Brush and/or branches were not properly separated and/or piled with stub (cut) ends facing the road. 
  2. Branches are larger than 3’ diameter or exceed a length of 4”.
  3. NO grass clippings, sod, stones, human made materials, lumber, stumps or root balls.
  4. No plastic bags
 
If you have any questions regarding our yard waste collection program, please call us at (610) 655 6285. 
 
If you have questions on grass recycling call our recycling office at (610)655-6278.
 
 
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