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Finance trickery

Published February 24. 2010 05:00PM

Governor Ed Rendell has the masses thinking he's doing something wonderful by ordering the early release of Liquid Fuels Funds. By giving municipalities the money early, he says it can be used for the immediate indebtedness caused by plowing and snow removal as a result of the recent major snowstorm.

The governor isn't doing the towns any favors.

Liquid Fuels Funds are generally used by municipalities for filling potholes, resurfacing streets, and doing other road repairs. By using this money for snow removal, the communities will have to look at other financial resources to do such street maintenance - or in some cases where no other financial resource is available, just let the roadways continue to deteriorate.

Why didn't the governor just declare a disaster area for affected areas? Why didn't he make a demand from the federal government that disaster relief money be made available, much like it has been for Baltimore and Washington D.C.?

Liquid Fuels money is derived from taxes we pay at the fuel pump. They can only be used for matters pertaining to road maintenance, repair, and rebuilding.

Some municipalities initiated snow removal with the hopes that Declarations of Disaster by the state and federal governments would be implemented so additional funding could be received.

Instead, they've been stonewalled so far by being forced to make do with the finances they have. The early release of Liquid Fuels Fund doesn't provide more revenue. It just gives them the money earlier.

Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek remarked, "Unfortunately, tough economic times have hit government entities hard, too, to the point that some municipalities are struggling to meet expenses, just like families are within their own homes."

He said he's happy the funds are being released early to help with existing difficult financial situations by municipalities, but added, "While the funding will be helpful, the other side of the coin is the fact that these funds are often utilized for street and road repairs, so what is spent on snow cleanup will only be less that the municipalities have for other uses."

In essence, that means a lot of needed repair work for some deteriorating roads won't be addressed by some municipalities this year.

The announcement by Governor Rendell might offer some immediate funds to tackle the problem of snow removal costs, but in the long run municipalities are going to be hurting without additional aid by the state or federal government.

By Ron Gower

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