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Monday, November 23, 2009

Fairy Tales (Dunmore PA edition)

"Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you..."
(Young At Heart)

While I don't expect many folks to really care about the on-going Dunmore budget saga, I personally find it very, very interesting.

The latest installment can be found here.

So what's so interesting? Well Dunmore PA is a small borough that lies right next to the city of Scranton. It has a population that is a hair below 14,000 (statistics here), and like most towns in NEPA, it is has been slowly losing population over time. From a governing perspective, many of the things that are wrong with Scranton on a larger scale are wrong with Dunmore on a smaller scale. This includes gems like:

...entrenched, glad-handing politicians
...high expenses for governance
...incredibly unrealistic budgets on one-time revenue sources/gifts (sometimes from a certain businessman...)

One of the unique things about Dunmore is that, despite it's size, it has a paid Fire Department. Oh, and they have a 1% wage tax. Oh, and they have their own school system. Seeing a pattern here? From my perspective, Dunmore lives on a macro level like those folks (who live in McMansions & finance a lifestyle via credit cards) live on a micro level: one heartbeat away from disaster. Well that disaster may have come, in two forms:

1. A recession that is sapping already inadequate revenues
2. Looming pension cost increases for education professionals

In the end, you simply can't spend more than you have, no matter how good your intentions. It's nothing short of a fairy tale on the part of any Dunmore resident who believes that they can have their paid fire department and other larger town attributes and still maintain the tax structure of a borough. Adding a little comic relief here, what was one of biggest issues facing the borough last year? The imbalanced budget? Nope. The fact that the Mayor has had virtually no opposition in 15 years in office? Nope. The looming pension crisis? Nope. was a controversy surrounding a bench, outside of a fire house.

Look, I'm not someone living in a glass house throwing stones. I know how messed up things are in my hometown of Scranton. The scary part is that I'm not entirely sure that many Dunmore residents can say the same thing.

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