Commissioners want to set record straight

In a letter to the editor published in the Jan. 5 Mirror, the writer made numerous incorrect statements that compel us to respond.

He seems to assume that the current board of commissioners made the “conscious decision to not contribute to the (county) pension fund.”

The fact is that no contributions were made to the pension fund from 2002-08, long before the current board took office.

The current board has made the largest annual contributions ever during our term, including $3 million in 2016 and $4 million in both 2017 and 2018 in an effort to fix the problem.

Additionally, the prior board of commissioners also made the then record contributions of $2 million in both 2014 and 2015.

It also reduced the size of the county’s labor force by 33 percent by selling Valley View Nursing Home, thereby reducing the county’s potential long-term pension obligation by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The current and prior board’s commitment to solving the pension problem is undeniable.

The writer also asserts that “the commissioners have not made any attempts to generate new industry and/or manufacturing jobs in our county.”

This is also incorrect.

Through our active involvement on the board of the Altoona Blair County Development (ABCD) Corp., the commissioners have played an integral part in attracting and retaining jobs in Blair County.

ABCD Corp. recognized the commissioners’ contributions to these efforts by presenting them the 2014 Economic Development Partnership Award at the 2015 ABCD annual meeting.

And lastly, the letter states that the commissioners rejected the option of bringing a casino to the area.

This simply never happened.

The decision as to whether to allow a casino to come to an area belongs to the municipality, not the county.

Before forming an opinion on critical issues, it is important for our citizens to hear the facts.

Bruce R. Erb

Terry Tomassetti

Ted Beam, Jr.

Blair County commissioners