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Three stopgaps would help to slow the flood of red ink



Published: Wed, April 30, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The town is not totally devoid of resources.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

GREENVILLE, Pa. -- There are a couple of possible "quick fixes" being considered for the borough's immediate financial problems.

Wayne McClelland of Clinton Street, owner of the Oakes & amp; McClelland retail lumber company, has taken it upon himself to make a public pitch for people to just donate funds to bail Greenville out.

McClelland said he mailed letters to about 200 area residents and business people in February, asking them to support the effort and requesting individual gifts of up to $50,000.

He said he'd like to raise the $1.5 million the borough needs to wipe out its deficit but realizes the goal is unreachable.

"Any amount is going to help," he said, adding that he isn't expecting many $50,000 gifts but hopes to get a lot of people to give at least $1.

The early returns have been anything but encouraging, he said. The campaign had netted about $170 as of mid-April.

"If we don't do something [to raise money], they're going to keep raising taxes to get it," McClelland warned.

A more tangible method of raising a substantial amount of money quickly would be to sell the Greenville Municipal Authority's water plant, something the authority is investigating.

Richard H. Miller, authority chairman, said two companies, Consumers Pennsylvania Water Co. and Pennsylvania-American Water Co., have expressed interest in the facilities.

Offers could come within 60 days and proceeds from a sale would revert to the borough, he said.

Water plant debt

There's the $3.7 million in debt that the authority still owes on its 1990 new treatment plant construction, but any sale would pay that off and provide more than enough additional money to cover the borough's deficit, Miller predicted.

The authority has had some recent supply problems in pumping fresh water from the Shenango River, but that is being resolved with new pumps and the authority has the money to pay for them, Miller said.

The quality of the water produced at the plant is improving, "but not as fast as I would like," Miller said, noting the authority is working on its chemical mix to improve quality.

Not everyone thinks selling the plant is a good idea.

Some, like John Hajdak of Homer Street, think it would be "dumb" to sell the plant after investing so much money in it. He said he is satisfied with the quality of the water from the plant.

A third financial alternative is to ask the government for more help.

Mayor Clifford H. Harriger said he wants the borough to ask U.S. Rep. Phil English of Erie, R-3rd, to back a bid for about $2 million in federal grants with no strings attached.




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