Rules of the Road

The purpose of this blog is to share with you my thoughts on issues pertaining to Oil City and Venango County and to foster discussion.

However, that requires some basic rules. Personal attacks, inappropriate language and venom-filled postings will not be tolerated. Comments will be screened, and if necessary edited, before posting.

Disagreement and a variety of opinions are encouraged, but I ask that it always be in a respectful, positive manner. So fire away, but do so cleanly

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Where do we go?

Not yet half way through the current year, city council is already beginning to take a look at the 2009 budget.

The view is not pretty.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the city’s expenses are rising rapidly, largely a result of the historic run-up in fuel prices.

The administration has taken steps to reduce those costs, but there is only so much that can be done in the short term. More might be possible in the long-term, but unfortunately much of what could be done would require an investment of some type whether it is in new equipment or technologies or just improving the energy efficiency of our buildings and fleet. Investments are tough to make when you are strapped for cash.

Our first discussions about where we go in 2009 have focused on revenues. Basically, that means taxes.

So far it appears as if our revenues – again meaning largely taxes – are coming in as anticipated with the exception of the $52 a year local services tax. That’s probably going to fall below projections for 2008.

Like all municipalities, Oil City’s largest revenue source is real estate taxes. Our real estate tax base is stagnant.

Mayor Hawkins was correct when she said the best way to increase the city’s revenues and fiscal health is to grow its tax base. But again, that often takes investment.

So where do we go from here?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Inside is outside

Inside Oil City has been spending time outside.

It’s summertime and the living is easy.

And there is so much to do right here in our hometown.

For starters, if you have not yet visited the new pool, do so. The hundreds who have visited it since its grand opening on Saturday love it. It is nothing short of fantastic. We are so fortunate to have it and owe a great deal of thanks to all those who donated to it and especially to chief fundraisers Paul Stamm and Mike Klapec.

The city is still sorting through operational issues, including trying to get a good handle on costs, As a result, the pool manager and administration are asking for some time before tinkering with operating hours and the like. That sounds reasonable to me.

On Wednesdays throughout the summer we have the noon Pipeline Alley concerts sponsored by the Oil City Arts Council. Pipeline Alley is located between the National Transit Building and its Annex. The concerts are free, but the Arts Council will gladly accept donations.

Later this summer the Arts Council sponsors a series of Arts in the Park concerts on a number of Friday’s in Justus Park. The schedule can be found at the Arts Council Web site

Of course, there are a number of big events coming up, including Jolly July 3 and Oil Heritage Week.

On Saturdays hit the streets of Oil City’s North Side business district for “Summer Saturdays on Seneca Street,” a fun-filled promotion sponsored by the North Side Business Association. And there are three more Friday night concerts at the Latonia (

Then of course right here in our backyard we have our bike trails and waterways to enjoy.

The living might be easy, but we sure can be busy.