Our view: Chance for communities to look within
This new year, amid its “infancy,” is witnessing investigations on numerous fronts, domestic and foreign.
In the United States, criminal, political, medical and disaster-related probes are only a fraction of the points of determined, seemingly unrelenting focus.
Some of those investigations, many details and parameters of which remain under the proverbial radar, will no doubt move to center stage as the months of 2022 come and go.
Meanwhile, few people tie the word “investigation” to the day-to-day routines of local-level communities and their units of government, but this year that should change.
For Blair County, the city of Altoona, on down to the smallest, least-populated boroughs and townships, there is much to study, scrutinize and investigate — for the good of their populations.
Coming off the interruptions for which COVID-19 has been responsible for about two years, now is an excellent opportunity for officials and residents to look deeply into the proverbial nuts and bolts of their respective communities, with comprehensiveness deeper than what might usually be imagined or proposed.
That need not have anything to do directly with the pandemic, although the virus should not be kept outside the parameters of the investigatory mission when consideration of it is appropriate.
In recent years in other editorials, we have referred to some of the things that will be mentioned in the following paragraphs, but they deserve new focus and, in some cases, expansion, if only in anticipation of the influx of federal money that might be forthcoming.
Neither Blair County governmental operations, municipal operations in Altoona, nor any functions, assets or procedures of the county’s boroughs and townships should be exempt from the close look that we’re advocating.
For most places, there will be a window for revitalized optimism and confidence, once the study/investigatory task is completed and positive recommendations are implemented.
The investigation/study can begin on one of numerous fronts, including records-keeping, data collection and data storage.
At some point the mission could shift to ordinances — whether they are up to data, truly reflect current needs, or whether they are in need of revisions or elimination.
Meanwhile, no such study should avoid looking at governmental buildings, equipment and other physical facilities, at maintenance for those facilities, and timetables for replacement, if applicable.
Tied to that would be an investigation involving storage capacities within those facilities, how efficiently supplies of needed items are obtained and what needs to be streamlined.
The probe should focus on utility usage and whether there is any waste that should be addressed.
Other worthy topics of study would be making municipal meetings more resident-friendly, all issues that apply to employees, status and needs of local emergency services, insurance coverage related to workers and municipal facilities, fixing problems while they are small and less costly, and possible cooperative efforts with neighboring municipalities.
Could there be a means by which the community could honor those who make improvements that benefit the community as a whole?
What about establishing a citizens advisory committee?
All considered, 2022 could be a remarkable year on the progress front, even with COVID-19 still present.