Duncansville needs some new direction

For Duncansville residents who usually aren’t interested in attending their community’s borough council meetings, the meeting of Monday, Jan. 8 might be a good time to start becoming interested.

The borough has entered 2018 without a budget, the council has failed to make a final decision regarding the vacant police chief position and health issues have prompted Mayor Dale Shaw to step down.

Meanwhile, residents have been left wondering whether friction and an attitude problem have evolved within the borough government. A meeting that had been scheduled for Dec. 27 could not convene due to lack of a quorum.

Such a situation isn’t unheard of on the municipal government scene, but, regarding Duncansville, at least some of the council no-shows that evening failed to heed the usual practice of notifying other council members that they would not be attending. Thus, the meeting failed to attract a quorum.

A relevant question is why the absentees shirked such a basic courtesy — and routine expectation — in regard to their borough government colleagues.

Perhaps there’s nothing amiss, but the aborted meeting provided grounds for even the most luke-warm observer to become suspicious about what might be afoot.

On Monday, residents deserve an explanation for what’s going on and what isn’t — especially why something so important as final budget action could not be completed on time.

Likewise, it should be puzzling to residents why the police chief vacancy has proven so daunting for the council — not only regarding who should replace former longtime chief James Ott, who was elected Blair County sheriff in November, but also whether the position should be changed to part-time from full-time.

Possible evidence of dissention within the council ranks emerged by way of the mayor’s comment about the Dec. 27 absentees: “They neglected their duty to show up,” he said.

That comment came despite the fact that, when Councilmen Dave Shaw and Jeff Wolfe were reached by telephone as the 7 p.m. start time for the meeting had come and gone, both indicated that they were sick.

It can be suggested that if they weren’t too sick to answer those calls, they shouldn’t have been too sick to let someone know about their impending absences beforehand, to forestall negative suppositions about whether serious differences of opinion are dogging the council.

It’s not only the police chief vacancy that should be a matter of community concern. The council also must appoint a tax collector and decide who will succeed Dale Shaw in the mayoral seat.

Fortunately, because of the borough’s small size, it doesn’t have incoming and outgoing money pressures like those with which many larger communities deal. Thus, the lack of a budget on Jan. 1 didn’t create a financial crisis.

Still, in order to pay bills and meet other financial obligations, a completed budget must be in place and Duncansville continues to lack one.

Traditionally, Duncansville has been low-key on the governmental front; the community has lacked major controversies.

Thus, the possible implications emerging from the aborted Dec. 27 session are cause for residents to take notice and seek answers.

Resident disinterest won’t unlock that needed information.