Meadville Tribune

Local News

January 31, 2013

Commissioners discuss issues in Titusville visit

TITUSVILLE — Crawford County’s three commissioners were quizzed on everything from gasoline prices to mental health funding to why they ran for office when they went to the eastern end of the county Wednesday to meet with constituents.

About 20 people turned out at the Titusville Health and Aging Center to hear Commissioners Francis Weiderspahn, Jack Lynch and C. Sherman Allen discuss happenings in county government and take questions.

Commissioners said they can’t do anything about the price of gasoline, but all said they ran because they felt they could make a difference.

“I feel the three of us work well together,” said Weiderspahn, chairman of the board. “We may not always agree on everything, but we know where we stand.”

Each said they want to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers they’re serving and are committed to the job.

Commissioners said they are in the midst of revamping financial planning for the county with a new chief financial officer in place and a revised budget process.

“It (finances) is at the core of what we do,” Lynch said. “These are changes that are fundamental.”

Questioned about cuts in mental health services funding, Weiderspahn said Crawford County is one of 20 counties in Pennsylvania to get a state block grant for its human services needs rather than individual funding for each mental health/intellectual disabilities program.

A block grant will allow the county to shift money among programs within the human services department with greater ease if a need arises, he said.

The commissioners said they expect to make some type of decision on what to do with the county-owned Talon Inc. property in Meadville before the end of the year.

The county is looking at a potential $25.3 million capital project to alleviate overcrowding at the Crawford County Courthouse on Diamond Park in downtown Meadville. The project would renovate space at the current courthouse and renovate the former Talon site on upper Arch Street into a county courts complex.

“We need to do something,” Weiderspahn said, noting the project will hinge on county finances and how much the county may be able to borrow toward a project.

A full reckoning of county funds and the county’s potential borrowing status isn’t expected to be known until at least mid-year.

“We inherited an asset with no plan,” Lynch said of the Talon Inc. property purchase by the previous board of commissioners in early 2011. The current board of commissioners took office in January 2012.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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