The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 1, 2013

Teamwork puts county in black

Hats off to board, controller, employees

EBENSBURG — As should be expected, not every Cambria County resident has agreed with our county government’s fiscal practices during the past year. However, no one, taxpayers especially, should be disappointed with the results. At least to this point.

“It’s been a tough year from a cash-flow perspective,” Joel Valentine said of 2012. “But overall, it’s very positive.”

Valentine, representing Wessel & Co., a Johnstown auditing firm, reported last week that the county ended the year in the black, showing a $269,671 surplus.

Good news indeed. Decade-long budget and property-tax-increase experiences have shown what a struggle it has become for Cambria County to balance ledgers without simply reaching additionally into taxpayers’ pockets.

And don’t just thank the top officers, President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder quickly reminded.

The county made it through 2012 because of efforts by its employees in a number of belt-tightening measures, he noted.

“This is indicative of what all the employees in the county have worked for,” he said. “With how tight the dollars are, every day is a budget day in Cambria County.”

Lengenfelder also praised the controller’s office for keeping a close eye on the revenue and expenditures.

Many times we’ve touted Controller Ed Cernic Jr. and his small staff for their watchdog efforts and for speaking out publicly whenever red signals have arisen.

To their credit, that has occurred during both Democratic and Republican administrations. We have never suspected actions as being politically motivated.

“We are going to get tighter than a drum this fall, and it may start happening as early as August,” Cernic warned, predicting potential cash-flow problems.

“Cambria County needs an infusion of cash, and this has been going on for a few years.”

Yes it has. But with people and jobs leaving Cambria County at a scary rate, little else can be expected.

To compound its woes, the county, according to Cernic, is receiving $2 million less in state and federal money as funds tighten at the higher levels.

We expect our county leaders to continue working hard, to be stingy with our tax dollars, and to be cognizant that we’re getting the best bang for our bucks.

That’s why we elected them.

We also urge county residents to pay attention to make sure that happens.

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