RIDGWAY – After an already long meeting that started at 6 p.m. with the Public Hearing on Professional Taxation, a PowerPoint presentation on a five-year financial plan for the borough was not something no one looked forward to. But the University of Pittsburgh George E. Dougherty, Ph.D., director of the Graduate School of Public & International Affairs (GSPIA) showed why he is one of the school’s most popular lecturers, with a presentation engaging who kept board members engaged and asking questions throughout the evening. He received the âProfessor of the Yearâ at the University in 2017 and 2020.
“Overall, the Borough of Ridgway is in good financial shape,” Dougherty said Monday evening, “with only minor adjustments and changes needed to ensure the city can prosper over the long term.” âThis is partly due to very good management policies over the past few years, with things like the vehicle replacement fund and the wastewater treatment plant being two big programs than other cities. should envy, and it was wise to plan for the fact part of the borough council. ”
The study Dougherty conducted for Ridgway, however, was not carried out by the University, but rather by his own consultancy firm, Evaluation Resources, Dougherty has a long history in government and nonprofit administration.
Dougherty’s primary research interests include regional governance, citizen engagement, and municipal management and finance. His expertise has led him to get involved in local and state government programs, leading applied research programs for more than 30 state and local governments and nonprofit agencies. Dougherty is the Law 47 Coordinator for the Borough of Braddock and the Town of Duquense in Allegheny County. The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), under Bill 47, is responsible for helping municipalities in Pennsylvania experiencing severe financial hardship ensure the health, safety, and well-being of their citizens. Dougherty is a member of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Early Intervention Program, Strategic Planning and Management Program, City of Pittsburgh Housing Authority, Moving to Work Assessment, and Mid-Mon Valley Smart Government Initiative .
Dougherty separated his presentation into six separate reports and spent time in the community and neighboring municipalities to get âa feelâ for the area. âIt’s really beautiful here,â said Dougherty, âand I see why the people of Ridgway are proud and want to protect this area for the long haul.â
Ridgeway’s financial assessment
Overall, the Borough of Ridgway’s creditworthiness is quite good, with the most basic creditworthiness in terms of cash flow and level of service, giving the municipality the ability to pay bills on time and provide community services, from police to garbage collection and utilities such as distress-free water. Fiscal and long-term solvency are also in good shape with only minor changes needed to better plan for the future. In the borough’s five-year analysis, starting in 2016, Dougherty said Ridgway was “financially sound.” Ridgway experienced an annual structural surplus of 0.3% from 2016-present, but General Fund (GF) revenues fell 1.2% during this period, but due to cost-cutting measures adopted by the borough council and management reducing expenses by 1.5% to compensate for the loss. During that five-year period, the borough achieved GF surpluses in three of those five years, with 2020 noteworthy as a âdownâ year as it does around the world due to COVID-19, with a cumulative total of $ 245,000 added to FM over the five years. All major sources of income have remained stable over the same period, with district management being credited for successfully using cost accounting accounting with corporate funds. The only notable exception to the findings was the Water Fund, which posted a deficit of $ 52,888 over time, which is really pretty low in a multi-million dollar budget like Ridgway’s. The Waste Fund also recorded a structural deficit of 3.2% during this period, but did not record any annual deficit for the fund, in part due to the use of the funds for truck waste. Dougherty believes that the Borough Council should develop policies to “maximize the leverage effect of this important resource” for long-term financial stability by possibly expanding the operation if possible and by making improvements to the installation of the facilities. wastewater to realize its full potential. Without changing the budget, Dougherty projects general fund deficits until 2024, although this can easily be changed with a few minor corrections by the borough council.
In his presentation, Dougherty presented a detailed financial overview of each business fund in the borough, from water to the police, to the recreation and benefits fund, as well as comparisons with other municipalities. local. It also included projections for each year through 2024. A detailed property tax comparison was also included, which showed that at 16.92 Ridgway Brough was the lowest of the three Elk County municipalities that offered comparable service levels, such as police, water, and garbage collection. The Johnsonburg borough was the highest with a mileage rate of 28.66 with St. Marys in second at a rate of 18.54.
Under the headline of the presentation “Recommended Emergency Actions”, Dougherty noted that none of the issues reach the level of true “Emergency Action” such as he has the power to impose on Braddock Brough. or the Duquense in Allegheny County where he serves as the Act 47 Coordinator, but by making small changes now, Ridgway can avoid ending up in the dire financial situation these communities find themselves in.
Both recommended actions ironically involve water, which is usually only an issue at Ridgway with flooding during heavy rains. In this case, however, water is a great way for Ridgway to consolidate its financial stability. With small mileage adjustments of less than 1/2 percent possibly needed over the next three years. Dougherty recommends that a full study of water rates be conducted and minor rate adjustments made to solidify municipal authority. It also recommends that Ridgway Brough develop a program to maximize the truck waste resource through competitive analysis and develop a âRainy Dayâ fund for the borough with minimum and maximum fund transfer limits. Part of the money generated by the transported waste should be reinvested in the facility, with the possibility of expansion and improvement of the infrastructure to protect this resource. Surpluses can be used to fund programs such as recreation and parks, loans or grants for the frontage of houses to combat the plague, and loans or grants to downtown businesses to improve or open the building. “Second” floor with many windows for offices or apartments.
Ridgway Borough Council thanked Dougherty for his presentation and will be considering his report over the next few months.