The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 3, 2012

Paint Township hopes to meet with bank next week

David Hurst
dhurst@tribdem.com

— Paint Township supervisors expect to sit down sometime next week with at least one area bank aiming to iron out terms for a long-term loan.

The board says it’s still not a given that they’ll receive a loan soon. But supervisors said Tuesday they will need to borrow more than $300,000 to get the township back on track – and that a large portion of the money would be used to pay bills that are due and other current debt.

“We’re planning to meet with 1st Summit next week,” Supervisor Dave Blough said, noting the bank, one of three the township is dealing with, requested the sit-down.

Nearly out of cash, township officials laid off their road crew, a police clerk and police Chief Rick Skiles last month.

The full-time township secretaries are now working part time while Skiles continues overseeing his force at no pay.

The police department continues to patrol the area, thanks mostly to payment advances by Windber Borough, one of a handful of communities receiving coverage from it.

Some residents have criticized the township’s regional force, arguing its costs are the reason the township has fallen into a financial hole. But the board says the township’s own costs would be about the same if they would only patrol Paint’s borders – aside from higher-than-expected costs to build a township building addition, a key factor in their struggles.

Township supervisors say they deserve blame, too.

 “We’ll all pay ... thanks to us,” Supervisor Joe Huff Jr. told a resident after Blough said the township ignored warnings about deficit spending from its Barnes Saly & Co. auditors for nearly three years.

The board didn’t want to raise taxes while a sewage project required thousands in tap-in fees from many township residents. Now, a 6-mill increase is viewed as a certainty next year.

Township officials say they’ll need that new revenue to repay debt – mainly the $300,000 loan they hope to acquire.

But that will pay off other debt, including an $89,000 tax anticipation note due by year’s end, the board has said.

A short-term $75,000 loan acquired through 1st Summit this week is being used to make truck payments and other bills that must be paid, supervisors said.

A lien is being placed on township-owned vehicles to secure the loan, but Blough said the first payment isn’t due until next spring. By then, tax revenue will be rolling in giving the township funds to make those payments.

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