Monday, January 25, 2010

Dunmore's collision course with reality

Great article in this morning's Scranton Times.

Link Here.

I've said more than a few times that the borough of Dunmore is living in a dream-like state of denial, believing that it is somehow above the budget realities of the services it provides.

"The borough has a tax base that is insufficient to fund the municipal services it currently provides,"
- Dunmore Solicitor Thomas Cummings

It's nothing short of miraculous that a borough official actually is on record as saying this, although it's worth pointing out that Attorney Cummings doesn't hold an elected office. When you look at the statement of an elected official, as quoted in the article, you get a much more weasel-esque response of "We're still doing research on that,". Yupp, they really should look at the numbers, but here's some food for thought...

If revenue equals "X"

And Expenses equal "Y"

And "Y" is greater than "X"

...then they have a problem.

All ribbing aside, Dunmore (like many communities) has a structural deficit. The municipal budget's expenses are built around the best of times (when revenues are a-plenty), but yet reality dictates that the best of times never last. What then happens is a crisis...such as what Dunmore is inevitably facing...when those best-of-times expenses meet the worst-of-times economy.

Taking a step back for a moment, it's really no different than personal finances, a point that I've made time and time again. During the good times, politicians tend to be like 10 year old boys with $5 in their pockets: the desire to spend becomes this overwhelming force that they can not resist. It also helps that by spending recklessly politicians can then point to all the things they do "for the people". Again this is true in most communities, the City of Scranton most definitely included. However Dunmore (with its paid fire department) seems to me to be a particularly egregious example of living beyond the municipal means.

Dunmore, meet reality.

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