Westmoreland commissioners race: Candidates discuss county finances, taxes
Candidates for Westmoreland County commissioner discussed their views on various subjects with the Tribune-Review, which will be published weekly leading up to the Nov. 5 election.
Up first are excerpts from their take on the county’s financial situation and taxes. Full versions of their responses can be seen on video at TribLIVE.com.
Commissioners for more than a decade have passed deficit budgets balanced through the use of a surplus fund. That surplus is expected to be reduced to about $5 million at the end of 2019. The candidates were asked how they proposed to balance future budgets, if they propose service or personnel cuts and their position with regards to a potential increase in property taxes.
Gina Cerilli (Democrat)
“If and when we are faced with a tax increase and if we have exhausted all other avenues, if we raise taxes it has to be just to cover the expenses for that year,” said Cerilli, 33, of Hempfield.
Doug Chew (Republican)
“I am not proposing any service cuts nor any personnel cuts. I also don’t have in my plan to raise property taxes,” said Chew, 49, of Hempfield.
Sean Kertes (Republican)
“Do I foresee taxes going up, we won’t know until the budget comes up closer to December. Where we’re at with our tax base at this point I can’t answer that question,” said Kertes, 33, of Greensburg.
Ted Kopas (Democrat)
“I am very proud that Westmoreland County hasn’t raised taxes in 15 years nor have I raised taxes in my two terms in office, a record I am proud of and plan to continue for as long as possible.”
Voters will choose three of the candidates to serve on the board of commissioners.
Incumbents Cerilli and Kopas are joined on the ballot by challengers Kertes and Chew.
Cerilli is seeking her second term in office. Kopas was first appointed to the board in 2010 and elected to his first full four-year term in office in 2011.
Kertes works as the chief of staff to Commissioner Charles Anderson, who is retiring at the end of his term.
Chew is a microbiologist who previously worked as a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh and now serves as a self-employed grant writing consultant. He is making his first run for public office.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .