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

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Oil City Library

There is no doubt that the Oil City Library is a jewel of a community and regional asset.

Libraries say a lot about a community and communities and regions without good libraries are at a disadvantage educationally, recreationally and even in terms of economic development.

Recently the Oil City Library Commission requested that Cranberry Township support the library with a $4 per capita fee, the same per capita fee that is now contributed by the Borough of Rouseville and Cornplanter and President townships.

Currently, Cranberry picks up the $35 per household library card fee assessed residents of non-supporting communities for a library card when residents request the reimbursement. The amount of revenue generated for the library is minimal.

The $4 per capita contribution is only a fraction of what residents of Oil City pay to support the library.

And of course, everyone can come in and use all the library’s assets without a library card, other than checking out or ordering materials. People use it daily who do not have library cards (free to residents of the city and municipalities that contribute on a per capita basis).

The residents and elected officials in Rouseville, Cornplanter and President should be lauded for their per capita contributions to the library.

The truth is, such arrangements and ultimately a better way to distribute and cover the costs of the library and all our regional assets are necessary if we are to continue to have those assets.

As some point the residents of Oil City will be either unwilling or unable to shoulder a hugely disproportionate share to support the library and other regional assets. And they will be no different than the residents of any core community that hosts a regional asset and picks up most of the costs.

In the case of our libraries, perhaps a county library system is the answer. For other regional assets, such as our recreational facilities, perhaps a regional authority is a logical solution.

I do know that how we now support the library and other regional assets is not sustainable. If we don’t find a better way at some point those assets will be lost or significantly degraded and then everyone in the region will pay a very heavy price.

Monday, July 13, 2009

On posting, consultants, etc.

I know it has been a very long time since I’ve posted a new topic.

Frankly, I have been a bit weary. My hope with this blog was to encourage discussion that would enlighten residents as to my thinking and help me and others shape our individual opinions based on the exchange of thoughts and ideas. I certainly expected and accept criticism, but it does at times become tiring.

For anyone who actually follows this blog they know there has been a fair amount of on-going discussions in previous posts. So, although I have not put up a new post, there have been new comments on a number of subjects.

These have been difficult times for me on council and I’m sure the other members would say the same thing. We have a lot on our plate. The city is probably undertaking more projects simultaneously now than at any time in recent memory. The national economy is the most challenging in a generation and that works its way down to the local level. Losing a city manager was a real blow in my opinion and having to find another is a task I would not wish on anyone. We have to get it right.

And I do have, or try to have a life beyond the city, which has unfortunately included having to deal with my own employment situation.

So, on the issue of consultants, notably for hiring a consultant to help with the search of a new city manager that has been criticized by many I go back to my comment of: “We have to get it right.”

Our consultant, Peter Marshall of Municipal Resources of Pennsylvania has brought a level of expertise and efficiency to the process far beyond what I think any of us on council bring to the table. He has helped us develop a search process and platform that is most likely to get us the best candidate possible.

There is another benefit as well, using Marshall we have side-stepped the ever-present issues (or perhaps allegations is a better word) of local and internal politics and personalities driving the search and ultimately the hiring of a manager.

As for the other consultants currently leading studies (water ways, comprehensive plan, etc.), who would you ask to do the work, other than those with expertise and competency. I believe the waterways plan offers an incredible opportunity for the city to capitalize on the river and creek. The comprehensive plan is a state requirement and is a cooperative effort with Cornplanter and Rouseville.

I also saw a recent critic of the energy study being done by Johnson Control. I find it unusual that anyone would find something in the proposal to criticize. There is no cost to the city unless we fail to follow through with the energy study. Once completed, every proposal we implement will pay for itself, or Johnson Control picks up the bill. Not a bad deal at all.