Borough gets off on wrong foot

Cambria County’s Reade Township seems poised for less municipal controversy in the months ahead, if two meetings held this month are an accurate barometer.

But the jury’s still out on whether the same will be true in Duncansville, based on the less-than-harmonious mood of Monday’s borough council session.

For Reade, the challenge is to remain positive, with officials distancing themselves from controversies like those that had dogged the municipality, particularly the township’s municipal authority, for much too long.

Even if not everyone agrees on everything, officials need to approach issues in a professional, transparent way, with good record-keeping.

Split votes aren’t necessarily bad. They show that thought is being given to issues from more than one perspective.

Split votes are indicative that a rubber-stamp decision-making process isn’t in play.

Rubber-stamping can sometimes be counterproductive and otherwise problematic.

At a meeting on Jan. 2, the Reade supervisors picked a new chairman and appointed a solicitor; the township had been without one for some time.

That session was followed by one on Monday, when the supervisors filled two municipal authority vacancies. The way that task was handled might have opened a pathway for the authority to operate more cooperatively, thus smoothly, in the months ahead.

Undoubtedly, most Reade residents prefer that kind of outcome, after having witnessed so much authority friction and suspicion, as well as allegations, in the past.

Unfortunately for Duncansville, it’s not clear what course governmental business might take, going forward. Many of the residents who attended Monday’s council meeting were not in a good mood about the way the borough was operating at the end of 2017 and seemed skeptical about municipal-government harmony in 2018.

Residents at the session expressed unhappiness over a meeting that was scheduled for Dec. 27 but wasn’t able to convene because a council quorum

wasn’t in attendance.

The council also was criticized for its failure to pass a 2018 budget on time, inaction regarding the borough police chief vacancy and procrastination over filling the mayoral vacancy.

Council members ended up hiring a new chief at Monday’s meeting.

“I’m telling you, it’s an embarrassment the way this borough is right now,” remarked former chief and now Blair County Sheriff Jim Ott, regarding the delay in naming his successor.

Time will tell whether a member of Monday’s meeting audience was correct when he shouted, “Clearly, this council is divided.”

All considered, it’s important for residents of the town to continue attending council sessions, and that they be permitted to address the council in an orderly, respectful way. Meanwhile, it’s also important that council members put any personal disputes aside — if there are any — for the good of the municipality.

Duncansville Borough government has operated generally without controversy.

Even back as far as the 1970s, when the community was tackling the often-controversial issue of preparing a zoning ordinance, that process was effectively a model that other municipalities could have imitated.

Perhaps the council just ended last year — and started the new one — on the proverbial wrong foot and that the friction, delays and uncertainties will be short-lived.

Duncansville shouldn’t repeat Reade’s lengthy period of unrest, which accomplished little along the way.

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