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ELECTION 2017: Q&A with Delmont council candidates

Patrick Varine
| Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, 2:18 p.m.
The Delmont Borough building in June 2015.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Tribune-Review
The Delmont Borough building in June 2015.

Six candidates are seeking election to represent Delmont residents in the general election.

Incumbents Andrew Shissler and David Weber will be joined by newcomers William Marx, Pamela Loughner, Pamela Simpson and Stan Cheyne, who recently was appointed to serve the remainder of former Councilman Carl Boyd's term.

QUESTION: While neither has resulted in any recent tax hikes, both the police and engineering line items have gone over budget in recent years. Is this a concern for you as a potential council member, and how would you address it?

Weber: “While there may be instances where the budget exceeds the projection, the deviations are not excessive and can be fine-tuned as we more closely analyze the causes. Some are as a result of unfunded mandates or special circumstances.

“In the area of the police budget, there are occasions of overtime for investigations related to the increasing drug problem. I believe we need the local police presence to curtail this activity and put folks on notice that we are on duty 24/7 and drug activity will not be tolerated.

“With regard to the engineering fees, there are options with regard to how we engage with our borough engineers and how to best spend our funds. The increasing water management requirements are a strain on our resources. I am looking at options to mitigate our expenses in this area.”

Simpson: “Yes, it is a concern of mine as we the taxpayers never want to see increases. But these services are vital to our community. These services help to make it a great place to live and work. We all want a strong police force, especially in these trying times, so it will be our job as council to provide these services while still being financially responsible. This is something, if elected, that I will work on with council to find the best solutions possible for the Delmont taxpayers.“

Cheyne: “As a resident of Delmont, I am happy that my taxes have not increased. I am also happy with the current level of service that I have come to expect from our local police department. As an engineer, I realize that there is a certain design life for various infrastructure projects, and that at times, it's possible the original design may not have accurately anticipated the future demand of the community.

“A given year's budget is a plan for how the revenues of the borough will be spent, and I realize that various factors during that year can influence the final expenses of the borough. A resident of Delmont, I identify that roads, sewage, water, and police protection are all invaluable assets in my everyday life. The infrastructure of a community is a vital component to the value of the property within that community, probably only exceeded by the value of a low crime rate and feeling of safety within that community. Without looking at the detailed budget and expenditures for the police and engineering line items, just looking at the total may not tell the whole story, so I would be interested to see the cause.

“From attending the borough meetings over the years, I know that the Delmont Police Department has had both seasoned officers and part-time police officers leave. To make up for that time and provide for continual coverage in the borough, overtime and part-time officers are used in place, which is something that is very difficult to plan for during budget times.

“The engineering firm that is used by the borough is called in to help with a number of concerns in the community, as well as dealing with multiple levels of regulation; some that can't be planned for. Recently, a large amount of engineering and borough maintenance time has been spent dealing with some overflow issues as well as maintenance items at the Cramer pump station. If elected, I would reinforce the importance of adhering to the planned budget to both the police department and the engineering firm. If it's seen throughout the year that the engineering and/or police spending is exceeding the budgeted rate, then I would look into the cause and work to correct it.”

Loughner: “Going over budget is a result of a few things: not properly budgeting in the first place, not properly managing and administrating said budget, or maybe there was an emergency that was unplanned.

“As a potential incoming council member, I wouldn't necessarily say I'm concerned; but I would say that I am definitely interested in these line items. There are so many reasons for budget amendments and I believe it would have to be reviewed on a case-to-case basis. I am committed to working to ensure fiscal responsibility and transparency within Delmont council. I look forward to the budget workshops in the near future!”

Shissler: “Each year council plans an aggressive budget to squeeze the most out of every dollar. Over the past five years, we have dealt with higher-than-expected expenses for the police department for vehicle repair, computer-system upgrades, and part-time officers. Over the same period, our total revenue has always exceeded our total expenses and we managed to save up for a $300,000 paving program in 2015 without needing a loan. I have no reason to take seriously one man's complaint about the police department when he does not consider the big picture.”

Marx: “It is always concerning when any department is running over budget. I would publicly open the books to look at the reasons for these cost overruns and try to determine if these are caused by unforeseen circumstance or if it is a chronic mismanagement of these departments.

“In either case, I would try my best to work with the council and department heads to set up procedures to reduce future overruns and hold them responsible for the fiscal wellbeing of their departments.”

QUESTION: If elected, what would be your top priority in your first year as a council member?

Weber: “My top priority is the location and elimination of the storm water infiltration into the sanitary sewer. This is a tedious and time-consuming process but is necessary. In lockstep with this process is the control of storm water to slow down the flow into local streams. Mitigation strategies include rain barrels and rain gardens that could be placed in the borough to reduce the instantaneous flow during a rain event.”

Simpson: “In addition to my support for our police force, I feel strongly about the condition of our local roads and parks. I want to work hard to help us not only maintain our roads and parks, but to upgrade them as much as possible in the coming years.”

Cheyne: “If elected, I would work to address the concerns raised to me by the citizens of Delmont.”

Loughner: “Over the course of this election my primary campaign focus has been on public works. Our zoning ordinance is in the process of being updated, our real-estate market is steady and strong, and our school districts are thriving — it's a time for growth.

“I'd like to revive the downtown area as a hub for the community. There are so many great grants out there that have been missed out on. I'd like to see Delmont be the community crossroads that it once was. We just need to get in there, clean up and get to work.”

Shissler: “Continue to address the inflow and infiltration issues with our sewage system. It will take multiple years to resolve and require assistance from Salem Township.”

Marx: “I would also spearhead efforts to make our council more open and accountable to the people in Delmont.

“I would also like to work with other members on the council and local groups and businesses to sponsor more local activities and events that would increase community involvement and showcase Delmont as THE family-friendly neighborhood in the area.”

QUESTION: Why should voters choose you over the other candidates?

Weber: “I believe that as a council member I can effect some positive change for the borough. My background in experience and education with infrastructure, combined with my availability on a daily basis since I'm retired, allow me to support the borough maintenance personnel during their work day as well as off hours. I can be on-site with them as an adviser and facilitator. I welcome all the other candidates and am glad that there is a larger pool that is interested in contributing.”

Simpson: “I have lived, worked and raised my family in the Delmont/Export area for over 30 years. I love this area and want to see our quality of life maintained and improved upon.”

Cheyne: “Since I have moved into Delmont, I have been involved with the community. I have been serving on the Delmont Recreation Board and volunteering my time at the sponsored events in addition to working to get the new playground equipment installed at Newhouse Park.

“I regularly attend the borough council meetings and feel that I am familiar with the issues going on within the community. I support all local businesses that I can with the borough and have a genuine concern for the health of the borough while I continue to raise my four young daughters. I follow through on what I say that I am going to do and do not have a personal agenda that I am trying to implement. When looking at an issue, I am able to look at the benefits of each possible solution and will make the decision that I feel is best for the community.”

Loughner: “I would hope that Delmont voters would choose me over the other candidates because I've said something that may have resonated with them. I've knocked on doors and spoke with residents about their ideas for Delmont, and the majority of us all want the same thing: a small-town community with a few amenities. I believe that vision is possible and I'm committed to working to better our community.”

Shissler: “Experience. I have served Delmont for almost 10 years on council. I have worked hard to keep our borough financially sustainable, which includes continual support of our police department.”

Marx: “I am a father, husband, and 15-year military veteran with a proven record of leadership, solving complex difficult problems, and working well with people from different backgrounds who hold differing personal and political beliefs. I have a passion for government and, as a civics teacher, a unique understanding of the function and role of government and its relationship to the people it is supposed to serve.

“I have dedicated my life in selfless service to the public good and would like to bring my experience, knowledge, and passion to our council in order to make Delmont better for the families that live here and for the ones we hope to attract into our community.”

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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