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Tuesday takes – Westmoreland

The fickle finger of fiscal nonfeasance: Commissioners past and present in the Nov. 4 election have clashed over who’s to blame for Westmoreland County’s fiscal mess. Commissioner Tom Balya, a two-term Democrat, lays the blame on former commissioners, most notably Terry Marolt, a Republican who this year is running to regain his seat. Marolt — with whom Balya served during Balya’s first term — points out, and quite correctly, that Balya, et al, in 1999 were handed a $23 million budget reserve, which has been nearly exhausted.

No doubt we’ll be hearing a lot about who screwed up the county’s finances. But rather than look backward and argue history, the five candidates for commissioner would do better to focus on how they’ll lead the county away from years of deficit budgeting to fiscal health.

Pool of red ink: The debt accrued by the Derry Area Recreation Board, and the consequences for Derry Borough, are disquieting to say the least. The board needs to pay off $94,000. Rec Chairman Denise Swarner said the board planned to take out a loan when its line of credit — already extended several times — expired. That’s like paying off one credit card with another.

We’re also told that borough property — the Derry Community Pool — is being used as collateral, which means council is on the hook for any debt that the recreation board cannot pay.

Before Derry rec sinks into the deep end of the financial pool, borough council and the rec board need to come to a better understanding of how to climb back to solid ground.

Maglev unplugged: It was on Aug. 31 that the Trib implored somebody in a position of government authority to publicly stick a fork in the proposed high-speed magnetic-levitation train between Pittsburgh International Airport and Greensburg. Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey did just that last week in an address before the International Association of Business Communicators. Mr. Roddey said the $3 billion maglev is too expensive and the federal government isn’t going to pay for it. Maglev was a boondoggle from the beginning. Here’s hoping a money pit this big never gains favor here, or anywhere else, again.


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