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Greensburg Laurels & Lances

On the "Watch List:"

• Hempfield's fields of fiscal folly. Township and school district officials say they'll meet to discuss payments, $57,000 annually over eight years, that the township paid for district ball fields that Hempfield's rec department never used. And what can taxpayers expect from this summit• As money is fungible, they deserve a full accounting of exactly how these "field" funds were spent by the school district over the years.

• A potentially explosive property assessment dispute. A multimillion-dollar appeal of a North Huntingdon shopping plaza's assessment could be the trigger to a countywide reassessment. The appeal challenges the uniformity of property assessments, which in Westmoreland County are pegged to 1972 values and are among the oldest in the state. A court challenge comes as no surprise. But are county commissioners, long aware of the problem, prepared to steer Westmoreland through what very well could be a ravaging reassessment storm?

Laurel: To District Judge Doug Weimer. A complaint from a North Irwin councilman, who alleged that another councilman roughed him up, has been resolved. But not without an apropos admonition from the judge: "We don't need these types of problems from our elected officials." In other words, put the public interest first and stop the nonsense.

Lance: To Halloween pranksters. Good fun is one thing; willful property destruction is another. The run-up to Halloween is no excuse for some youngsters, and those old enough to know better, to behave like reckless hoodlums. Such antics aren't harmless when they come at others' expense.

Observations:

• Hempfield Area's school bus drivers say they're proposing "a fair amount of savings" in contract negotiations. And school board President John Henry adds the union's wage-package offer is reasonable. This, of course, as the district considers whether to contract out the bus service. Competition for the provision of a public service -- what a grand idea!

• It's unfortunate that the Greensburg-Hempfield Area Library and its Youngwood branch are closed one additional day each week because of state budget cuts. State lawmakers slashed library funding by 20 percent. But budgets for the state House and Senate were cut 4 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively. Those Susquehanna spendthrifts who feather their own nests first deserve the business end of the public's boot in next year's General Assembly elections.

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