Financial Issues Discussed at
Bradford City Council Meeting

By ANNE HOLLIDAY
WESB/WBRR News Director


The city is looking into the state's Early Intervention and Distressed Cities programs because of the current financial situation.

During Tuesday's Bradford City Council meeting, Mayor Tom Riel said they are exploring the possibility of receiving some assistance from the state.

He said both he and city controller Ron Orris feel "it would be beneficial and would alleviate a lot of the problems that the city has faced repeatedly over the last number of decades, especially the budgetary problems at the end of each year."

"All the early intervention program does is – they come in here and give us advice," Orris said, "and I think that's what we need."

"They don't take control of our city," he added

Riel added that financial help is also available in the Early Intervention program.

"The city doesn't have a long-term plan in place," Riel said. "We've been struggling to get by from year to year. We keep having these budgetary problems that are getting worse – last year, this year. We're looking at problems for next year."

"They come in here with professional people who have done this in other communities and helped them to establish a long-term financial plan to get them back on their feet so they're not getting upside down like we're getting," Riel said.

OECD Executive Director Sara Andrews said she spoke briefly Tuesday with a member of the Governor's Center for Local Government Services on the issue.

She said Phil Scrimenti has worked with the Early Intervention and Distressed City programs.

"I think that the Early Intervention is something that he probably would recommend because of how they bring the professionals in and make recommendations and help the community to not get to that level (of a distressed city)," Andrews aid.

Scrimenti was in Bradford to meet with the Main Street and Elm Street mangers, and not concerning the Early Intervention or Distressed City programs.

Bradford businesswoman Diane Thompson said if it's about advice, and not someone else taking control of the city, she's not against it.

"I think one of the major problems in this city is that there's so much ego in different departments that people can't work together for the betterment of the city," she said.

"You don't want to give up this because it's yours," she said. "You don't want to give up any bit of it so that everybody can get a little bit better."

She also said she understands that money is tight but she's strongly opposed to not having the police station manned 24 hours a day.

"It's a nice feeling to know that when you call over there and you need them, someone's going to answer that phone," she said.

"I've had my problems; they've had their problems with me," she said. "But they're always there with no attitude no matter what was going on, all these years, to help me and to help my employees."

"I think it's a sad day when, as a small community, you can't call the police when you need them and have someone in your community answer that phone," Thompson said.

She also addressed the issue of a paid versus volunteer fire department.

"We're here talking about Bradford being in a distressed situation – (the fire department) is a huge amount of money," she said. "A huge amount of money. I'm not saying that we don't appreciate our firemen. Even if you went part time volunteer and part time paid it's a compromise and it would save a tremendous amount of money."
"We have a lot bigger problem with crime than we do with fires in this town," she said.

At the end of the discussion Riel reiterated that council is just looking at the possibilities.

"Nobody's made a decision to go any direction," he said. "The question is 'What would most benefit Bradford long-term?'"

from sitting in city council chambers, listening, recording, and taking notes

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