Greensburg Tuesday takes
Bond blunder: It sure wasn’t business as usual that jacked up the monthly rates of the Unity Township Municipal Authority for residential customers from about $39 to $50. Turns out previous board members agreed to a “swaption agreement” on $34 million in bonds, with interest rates comparable to a variable-rate mortgage. So the authority now says 75 percent of the increase in customers’ bills will cover the cost of the bond refinancing. A bucket of tar and feathers, please, for the person who inked the original deal.
Firefighters’ alarm: The dwindling roster of the Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department offers a snapshot of what’s happening statewide. In just three years, membership has declined from 327 firefighters to 287. The median age is now 62. Statewide, Pennsylvania’s firefighters have dropped from 300,000 in 1976 to about 50,000 today. “Volunteerism is going down the sewer,” says one longtime volunteer. Yet the state and local communities today are no closer to putting out this burning issue, which has been smouldering for years.
Budget fudging: So-called “overinflated” revenue projections in the 2014 budget has left Fayette County commissioners with a $500,000 “discrepancy.” In just one instance, the fee-based United Parcel Identification System for property records was projected to bring in $450,000; the fund to date has $79,000. That’s not budgeting. It’s wishful thinking in a cash-strapped county that can’t afford it.