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A year-end ritual: Ho-hum budgeting

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Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

The year winds down in its inevitable fashion, our eyes fixed on the holidays that will arrive soon.

Equally traditional is the passage of budgets by borough councils and township supervisors around Armstrong County.

Rarely do the deliberations result in creative thought or public input. Though these decisions directly impact local real estate taxes and will have the most immediate effect on the quality of life in our hometowns, we say little about them. Public attendance is marginal. Few residents, if anyone, ever check the tentative budgets, and there are no letters to the editor.

Ford City is looking at a 1.5-mill property tax increase and Kittanning this week proposed a no-increase fiscal plan that makes some personnel changes, including the decision not to have a police chief once the current one retires and to use an “officer in charge” instead.

Budgeting is complicated, and meeting pension costs is one bugaboo. We never seem to get out of the morass, able to see any new direction for our communities that will take us to better, affordable police protection or ways to invigorate our housing stock and business districts.

The answers will never be easily found.

Yet our leaders must muster the energy and enthusiasm to find these solutions.

The deliberations of elected officials are the important part; the vote becomes secondary. Municipal leaders need to understand what the “public” aspect of “public official” means.

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