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July/August 2001

Inside This Issue:

 

Reports on Land Use Planning and Internet Use Released by Center
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s Board of Directors has approved the release of research reports on the effectiveness of municipal land use regulations and on Internet use by state residents. The reports, Measuring the Effectiveness of Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Regulations in Pennsylvania and Cybercitizens of the Commonwealth: How Rural and Urban Pennsylvanians Access and Use the Internet, are the result of research projects sponsored by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and conducted by researchers from Penn State University and West Chester University, and from Bloomsburg University, respectively.

Learning more about the use of planning tools

Are Pennsylvania’s counties and municipalities effectively using comprehensive planning and land use tools, and if so, are these tools helping to achieve the planning goals set by the community? These are just two of the issues covered in the report, Measuring the Effectiveness of Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Regulations in Pennsylvania.

The report is based on the results of a one-year project conducted by Dr. Stanford Lembeck and Dr. Timothy Kelsey of Penn State University, and George Fasic of West Chester University. The research project focused on four objectives:

1. Measure the effectiveness of comprehensive planning and land use regulations to determine which of the four principal tools of planning are being used in Pennsylvania municipalities and counties;

2. Determine if certain tools are used, unused or underused;

3. Determine if community plans and regulations are achieving the planning goals set by the community; and,

4. If comprehensive plans have been developed, determine if they are being used in community decision-making.

The project also examined whether there are barriers to effective planning, and if so, what they are and what actions could be taken to overcome them.

Summary of findings

After surveying township and borough officials, county planning directors, and the Pennsylvania members of the American Institute of Certified Planners, the researchers analyzed the survey responses and offered several findings, including the following:

* The four principal planning tools are planning commission, comprehensive community or county plan, subdivision and land development ordinance, and zoning ordinance. While there is a great deal of planning activity in the Commonwealth, the survey found considerable variation in the use of the four planning tools.

* Planning is unevenly distributed. While planning authority is available to all municipalities, the basic planning tools are not being universally used but differ by region, size of population, urban and rural location, and development pressure.

* There is great variability in the use of tools by region of the Commonwealth.

* Municipalities undergoing relatively severe growth pressures are more likely to use the basic tools.

* Size is an extremely important determinant of whether or not municipalities participate in planning.

* Most of the comprehensive plans, zoning, and subdivision ordinances were first enacted in the 1970s.

* Only about one in five comprehensive plans has been updated, and the average year of initial preparation of these plans is 1979.

* Few municipalities go beyond the four principal planning tools and use other tools that help round out a complete planning program.

* Current planning efforts are not bringing about the desired planning results. Municipal officials rate the achievement of their municipalities’ planning goals at the mid-3 level on a scale of 1(low) to 5 (high). County planning directors rate county planning goal achievement lower, in the 2 to 3 range (on a scale of 1 to 5).

* The use of comprehensive plans by both municipal and county government officials is low.

* How to break the cycle of ineffective planning is a critical policy issue. Failure to achieve planning goals, inability to use the tools available, statutory barriers that trivialize comprehensive planning, and the lack of leadership and training combine to work against public and local officials’ support for planning.

Internet use in PA

A separate report released by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania focuses on how the Internet is being used in both rural and urban areas. The report, Cybercitizens of the Commonwealth: How Rural and Urban Pennsylvanians Access and Use the Internet, is based on a nine-month research project, conducted by Dr. James Tomlinson of Bloomsburg University.

The project gathered data on how Pennsylvanians are using the Internet. While there has been a growing amount of data released on national trends, prior to this report, little data specifically addressed the Commonwealth.

The project set out to:

1.Provide an analysis of the parity of access to advanced information services between rural and urban citizens of the Commonwealth;

2. Provide data regarding the types of Internet use;

3. Provide base-line data for future research; and

4. Provide policy recommendations based on analysis of survey results to further enhance Pennsylvania’s position as a leader in technology.

To gather the necessary data, Dr. Tomlinson, with the assistance of the Center for Opinion Research at Millersville University, interviewed 1,000 Pennsylvania residents aged 18 and older; 500 from rural areas and 500 from urban areas.

Summary of findings

The survey, which focused on computer ownership and Internet access, yielded a variety of interesting results, including the following:

* Statewide, more than 62 percent of all households now have a personal computer (PC).

* Both urban and rural residents continue to lag behind their suburban counterparts for having a personal computer at home. While more than 2 out of 3 suburban households have a PC, urban and rural households have a similar degree of ownership at 56 and 58 percent, respectively.

* Just as there has been an increase in the number of households with personal computers, there has been increased access to the Internet since 1998. This increase is across every demographic category.

* Rural households, however, continue to lag behind statewide figures for having Internet access at home. This is evident when the data from urban and rural counties is compared.

Tomlinson concludes that there is much to be encouraged about in the data. For example, there is evidence that access to personal computers and the Internet continues to increase across all demographic groups.

However, there are areas that continue to raise concern. Residents of rural areas are already expressing their concern about the lack of high-speed connections and the possibility that rural areas will become even more disadvantaged during the switch over to higher speed access.

Want more info?
For a copy of either report, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or email info@ruralpa.org.

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Chairman’s Message
Policymakers in Harrisburg wrapped up the 2001-2002 budget and the tobacco settlement legislation prior to returning to their districts to catch up on work in their county offices this summer. As a legislative agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania stays on top of the impact these new laws have on all Pennsylvanians, but especially those in rural areas. While it is too soon to determine the results that the tobacco settlement fund distributions will have on rural hospitals, research institutions and residents, I am optimistic the benefits these additional dollars will have in the area of health care will prove to be a wise investment of the roughly $11 billion in revenues we will be receiving over the next 25 years.

I am pleased the next fiscal year budget for the Center for Rural Pennsylvania includes a modest increase for our research programs and operations. This funding allows the Center to continue its work with State System of Higher Education universities and Penn State on much-needed research topics that are targeted by the Center’s Board of Directors. Our feature story highlights two of these grant projects. The first involves a look at comprehensive planning by Pennsylvania’s municipalities and its effectiveness; the second studies Pennsylvanians and their ability to access and use the Internet. Both are important tools that are grasped by some, but left unused by others.

Another tool that is used by governments at all levels is the Census. The results of the 2000 Census continue to be released by the U.S. Census Bureau as people wait impatiently for the details to be finalized. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, which plays an important role serving as a data source for many agencies, is gathering the available information and crunching the numbers into understandable information. Two articles on page 6 of Rural Perspectives are helpful references for anyone interested in keeping up to date on the Census. One article details the release dates of specific data, and the other details the changing family households in rural Pennsylvania during the last decade.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania staff has been busy putting together the details for our Rural Summit in the City. Scheduled for November 13-14, 2001 in Harrisburg, the summit will bring together folks from all over the Commonwealth who are concerned about rural issues and who will share innovations and creative solutions with conference participants. I hope to see you there. Be sure to check out the tentative agenda on page 5.

While lots of ideas have been generated by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, many great ideas have been developed by individual Pennsylvanians who have the patent to prove it! I am sure you will enjoy the Center’s report on the number of patents granted to Keystone State residents and where the "light bulbs" for these patented ideas are burning brightest.

So, relax while reading this issue of Rural Perspectives as you taste some "peachy" Pennsylvania-grown produce. Enjoy your summer along with some of the fruits and vegetables of agriculture’s labor.

Representative Sheila Miller

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General Assembly Approves Tobacco Settlement Formula
The Pennsylvania General Assembly approved in late June the distribution formula for the state’s share of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. The formula determines how the Commonwealth will spend the approximately $11 billion it will receive over the next 25 years. The tobacco settlement proceeds will be distributed as follows:

* 30 percent ($103 million in 2001 - 2002) to fund a new health-insurance program for working low-income adults whose employer does not provide health benefits. Part of this money will also assist working Pennsylvanians with disabilities.

* 19 percent ($65 million 2001 - 2002) to support university and medical institute research.

* 13 percent ($45 million in 2001 - 2002) to provide home and community-based care for older Pennsylvanians.

* 12 percent ($42 million in 2001 - 2002) to provide smoking prevention and cessation activities for teens and adults.

* 10 percent ($35 million in 2001 - 2002) to reimburse hospitals and the cost of providing care to uninsured individuals.

* 8 percent ($28 million in 2001 - 2002) to expand income eligibility for the PACENET Program, which assists the elderly with the purchase of prescription drugs.

* 8 percent ($28 million in 2001 - 2002) to be transferred to an endowment, along with an up-front, one-time deposit of $195 million, to ensure that the benefits of the tobacco settlement are secure, even if the receipts from the tobacco companies decrease.

In addition, the General Assembly agreed to a one-time payment of $100 million to be allocated to create three regional biotechnology "greenhouses," which will help to develop and deliver new medical treatments to patients worldwide.

The tobacco agreement also allocates a one-time payment of $60 million for venture capital investments in health science and $68 million for special health projects.

By enlarging the healthcare funding pie, the tobacco settlement formula should help increase the quality and quantity of healthcare services in rural Pennsylvania. The rural elderly and low-income residents will have the most immediate benefits.

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Taking Credit for a Great Idea
Original ideas. Our country was built on them. Even today, we continue to be driven by them.

Who comes up with these great ideas? And more specifically, are any of these idea-people living in rural Pennsylvania?

To find out, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania took a look at the number of patents that were granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in the 1990s. This office reports the number of utility patents granted each year to residents of each county. Utility patents include those for inventions as opposed to plant or design patents.

In the 1990s, residents of Pennsylvania’s rural counties were granted 2,506 patents. This equates to 98 patents for every 100,000 people for the decade. Urban residents were granted 279 patents for every 100,000 people during the same period.

The 306 patents granted in Pennsylvania’s rural counties in 1999 represented a 10-year high, following the 1998 high of 284. The 1999 rate of 12 patents per 100,000 residents was also the decade record.

Two rural outliers in patents per capita are Bradford and Forest counties, which saw 487 and 405 patents, respectively, for every 100,000 residents. Cameron County had only one patent granted during the entire 10-year period.

By this measure, patent recipients mostly hail from the southeast and southwest portions of the Commonwealth and tend to not live in the central and northwest regions. Those in the northeast and southcentral areas fall in between. The five counties in the southeast, which are all urban counties, boasted more than three times as many patents per capita during the 1990s as the 16 counties of central Pennsylvania. In sheer numbers, dwellers of the southeast were granted 11 times as many patents.

Compared to other states in the nation, Pennsylvania was quite inventive. For the decade of the 1990s, the Commonwealth ranked 7th in raw numbers (with nearly 29,000 patents granted) and 15th in patents per capita with 241 per 100,000 residents. Delaware led with 592 patents for every 100,000 residents, followed by Connecticut and Massachusetts with 468 and 403, respectively. Mississippi had a rate of fewer than 50. The overall national rate was 221.

In Pennsylvania, only Chester County, at 600, had a higher rate than the state of Delaware. Ten Pennsylvania counties had lower rates than Mississippi. Nine of the 10 had populations under 50,000 and one was under 100,000, so that just a small number of patents could significantly alter the rates. Original ideas. Our country was built on them. Even today, we continue to be driven by them.

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Update: Census 2000
The Census 2000 data is really beginning to flow! First, the state population totals were released in December 2000. Next came the redistricting data – total and age 18 and older populations by race and Hispanic origin – for all levels of geography in March 2001.

In May, basic profiles of the Summary File 1 (SF1) or "short form" data were released. This profile data includes a summary of all data on the short form, which was received by every household in the nation.

The population data includes:

* Five-year age cohorts and median age;

* Gender;

* Race details;

* Hispanic origin;

* Relationships within households (one new category

since 1990 is unmarried partner);

* Family types;

* Household and family size; and

* Group quarters (nursing homes, prisons, college dorms).

The housing data includes:

* Occupied versus vacant housing units; and

* Housing tenure (whether the home is owned or

rented by the householder).

These profiles are summaries and are available only at the national, state, county, and municipal levels. The data can be obtained from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania in either profile format, which shows all the information for one place, or in a table format, which shows data for multiple places such as counties of a region or municipalities within a county.

The next data release will be all SF1 detailed data and will be released between June and September 2001. Some differences from what has already been released are that age data will be available by single year and data will include all levels of geography down to the Census block.

For more Census 2000 information, visit the U.S. Census Bureau’s website at www.census.gov or call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or visit www.ruralpa.org.

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The Changing Face of Rural Families
New Census 2000 data shows a changing family portrait in rural Pennsylvania. Of the 2.6 million households in rural counties, 70 percent were family households. This is different from 10 years earlier when 73 percent of households were families.

There are three types of families: married couple; female-headed with no husband present; and male-headed with no wife present. Of rural families, 80 percent are married couples. This is higher than the urban figure of 75 percent, but three percentage points lower than the 1990 rural figure. The number of female-headed rural families grew by 13 percent while the number of male-headed families increased by an astounding 41 percent. Married couple families grew by only 2 percent.

Fewer than half of rural families (43 percent) had children under age 18 compared to 52 percent in 1990. Of those with children in 2000, 76 percent were married couples, 17 percent were female-headed families and 7 percent were male-headed. This family makeup differs greatly from 1990 when 86 percent of families with children were married couples and only 14 percent were single parents. In raw numbers, we are talking about approximately 51,000 single mothers and 22,000 single fathers up from 35,000 and 14,000, respectively, in the previous Census.

There are 300,000 non-family households in rural Pennsylvania and 85 percent of these are persons living alone. Nearly half of the people living alone are age 65 and older.

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Did You Know . . .

* Between 1994 and 2000, 11 rural counties gained banking institutions, 16 lost them and 15 maintained a constant number.

* Real bank deposits declined by $734 million from 1994 to 2000 in rural Pennsylvania.

* During the 1999-2000 legislative session, 5,352 bills and resolutions were introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly - 102 less bills and resolutions than were introduced during the 1989-1990 session.

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Just the Facts: Ga$ Price$
Pennsylvanians are paying more for gasoline these days. While the increase in prices has hit everyone’s pocketbook, it has had a deeper effect in rural areas. One reason is that rural motorists drive more than urban motorists. According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), in 1999, the average rural passenger car drove 34 miles per day, while the average urban passenger car drove 16 miles per day.

To determine the impact of changing gasoline prices on rural residents, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania used the U.S. Federal Highway Administration’s average mileage rate of 21.4 miles per gallon for passenger cars for this analysis. The figure was combined with PennDOT’s data on daily vehicle miles traveled (DVMT) for passenger cars for rural and urban highways and the number of licensed passenger cars in both rural and urban areas.

When gasoline cost $1.00 a gallon, rural passenger car drivers paid about $1.58 per day to travel, while urban drivers paid $0.76 per day. The difference is attributed to rural cars being driven 18 miles further than urban cars per day.

Further comparisons showed that when gas prices rose to $1.50 a gallon, rural drivers paid $2.37 per day, while urban drivers paid $1.15. This translates to a cost of $865 a year for rural drivers and $420 a year for urban drivers. If gas prices jump to $2.00 a gallon, as they did in the mid-west last summer, Pennsylvania rural drivers would pay $3.16 per day, while urban drivers would pay $1.53 per day.

Pennsylvanians and other residents of the Central Atlantic region pay slightly more for gasoline than the national average. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average price of regular gasoline in mid-June 2001 was $1.69; the national average was $1.65.

Since higher gasoline prices are likely to be a fact of life for the foreseeable future, rural Pennsylvanians will find that hitting the highway will continue to make a substantial hit to their pocketbook.

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