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Focus turns to finances, police coverage in Ford City

Next week, Ford City officials and residents will share their thoughts on borough finances and the police department during a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 in the Ford City High School auditorium.

Those who attend the meeting will hear what the borough must contend with as it works to right its financial ship.

Council will also share data gathered about its police department.

In July, council’s three-person police committee suggested the force be disbanded to cut costs.

“I think it’s difficult to discuss the police department without discussing finances, so (the meeting) will be a little of both,” Borough Manager Eden Ratliff said.

Ford City’s officer-in-charge, Sgt. John Atherton, said representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police will attend.

He is hoping for a good turnout despite short notice.

“I’d encourage Ford City residents and business owners to come out and support us,” he said. “I’m just surprised how quickly it came up tonight. It’s less than a week away.”

The event was scheduled for earlier in the month but was postponed because some on council wanted more time to gather information.

That information, according to officials, includes financial responsibilities, tax rates and costs of borough services.

Residents will get to comment and ask questions, Ratliff said. He added they should have a chance to find out how tax dollars are spent and what the 2015 budget proposes.

“The town hall meeting would be a good place to come to talk about that,” he said.

Council Vice President Jerry Miklos said he wants residents to know about costs the borough faces moving forward.

“I would like to present the public with as thorough a list as we can at this time of what we need in this town,” he said.

Ford City officials have cited among their concerns aging infrastructure coupled with a shrinking tax base and obligations like $60,000-plus in Department of Environmental Protection fines and a $580,000 grant default.

As of September, the borough had more than $1.4 million in its cash accounts and an adjusted general account balance of just under $250,000, according to a financial report approved during Monday’s council meeting. Outgoing monthly bills totaled about $40,000.

Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1315, or [email protected].


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