CLEARFIELD – Residents of Clearfield Borough and Lawrence Township are encouraged to attend a public meeting regarding the proposed consolidation of the two municipalities on Oct. 26. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School Auditorium.
The meeting is being held to inform the public on what has taken place at the committee meetings, the information discovered during the process and to answer any questions residents may have. The committee members will also address concerns and attempt to dispel the many rumors circulating in the community.
Yesterday, the committee members reviewed documents, which will be presented to the township supervisors and borough council, outlining the conclusions of the committee, reports of the various sub-committees and the recommendation of the committee regarding consolidating the two under home rule charter, creating the City of Clearfield.
According to the committee, there are several reasons in favor of the consolidation. The first is financial. The township is already against the wall regarding revenues and will soon have to face going to the courts to raise taxes, or eliminating services.
While the borough is in somewhat better shape at the moment, it has similar population, tax base, expenses and debt service and will soon reach the same position.
Second is the ability to join resources for better coverage and to reduce expenses. Consolidating the municipalities will also help with outside resources from state and federal sources. For those purposes, the municipality will be considered a second-class township and some resources available to townships but not boroughs will be made available.
There are, of course, other reasons the committee feels consolidation is the best choice for the communities, and those will be outlined at the upcoming meeting.
The committee also heard from Tom Wagner, an attorney from St. Marys, who was involved in the merger of St. Marys with the surrounding township of Benzinger to create the City of St. Marys.
Wagner noted that the process was difficult at the time but now it is difficult to remember a time when they were separate. He reminded the committee members that their jobs will not be done when the vote is over. If it gains approval from residents, they will have to work together to keep the process moving, to answer questions, solve problems, etc.
Ed Fosnaught, representative of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, also spoke to the committee and said he works with communities that resisted combining with other communities and are now under Act 47, which is where the state steps in to help communities in financial distress. Some of those include Aliquippa, New Castle and Hermitage. He said they could have avoided many of the problems they face now if they had worked harder to combine resources.
“I think this group is doing an excellent job. I think you’re doing an exemplary job…it’s for the benefit of the community,” he said.