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Ambulance service key issue for supervisors

| Sunday, May 6, 2012, 3:30 p.m.

The prospect of a new ambulance service, as well as zoning, sewer system projects and spending are among the topics drawing the focus of the two men seeking a position as a Sewickley Township supervisor.

The Republican candidate is Jared Filapose, 36, who was appointed to the board in 1997, then re-elected for a six-year term in 1999.

On the Democratic ticket is Wayne Jones, 50, of Rillton, whose firm has audited township finances for six years.

A key issue for both candidates is also a ballot question. Sewickley Township voters will decide if they want a hometown ambulance service. The service has been handled by North Huntingdon Township's Rescue 8, which is pulling out of Herminie because of a loss of income.

Voters will decide whether to institute an annual tax rate of 2 mills to support an ambulance rescue service and similar emergency services.

"We only have the power to enact half of a mill increase," Filapose said. "That's not going to be enough to get the organization to be successful. We looked at other options to get another ambulance to come into Sewickley, but they don't know the roads. When you look at things it might be better to have a hometown ambulance service."

A vote in favor of the ambulance service would increase the township's millage from 10 to 12 mills. Filapose, general sales manager at Basic Carbide, said this is an issue best handled by the voters.

Filapose said if the millage for a new ambulance service was approved, there would be a panel of eight people put in place -- four from the ambulance service and four chosen by supervisors -- to oversee activities, such as spending.

Spending is something about which Jones is concerned, in all cases, including the ambulance service issue.

"My first reaction is any time you're spending residents' money to have to make sure you absolutely need to," Jones said. "You want to make sure they have an audit, see what other alternatives are out there. Look at volunteers. Are there any other ambulance services that can help• We have ambulance services on the other side of Sewickley. Can they come in and help?"

In auditing the township's finances, Jones said he sees a township that is overspending.

"As of the end of the audit for 2004, they were $400,000 in debt," Jones said. "My concern was even though there's been consecutive millage increases, they're still getting further in debt. I've watched this township through the last five or six years through my audit and have become concerned that this township could easily go into Act 47."

Filapose has a different view of the township's finances.

"When you do infrastructure improvements, you take an investment on the future," Filapose said. "My approach is we build a bridge and we'll take the 20-year loan."

Filapose, who said he plans to continue serving on a volunteer basis, wants to develop community infrastructure by rehabilitating the 50-year-old Green Hill Bridge and by building playgrounds in many township communities. He also plans to keep helping the township comply with state mandates to complete sewer system projects in the villages of Herminie, Rillton, Lowber and the borough of Sutersville.

"In the next three years, this township is going to have a different look not because supervisors want city sewage (but) because the government mandates it," Filapose said.

Jones said there should be a focus on water.

"We have residents who don't have clean drinking water," Jones said. "(Sewerage) is important, but I'd rather have clean drinking water. I think (sewerage) needs to be implemented selectively."

Jones also said deteriorating roads need to be repaired and aging equipment replaced.

"You have to start looking at how you do business," Jones said. "You have to live within your cost and become more efficient."

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