The scene unfolding with the Allegheny Center of the Arts (ACA) Building and the anchor building grant in downtown Warren is reminiscent of a scene from the original Star Wars movie.
The Empire (DCED) is scouring the planet Tattoine (Warren), for stolen plans to its Death Star and looking for a small robot ($500,000).
The movie's early protagonist, Obi Wan Kenobi, is caught by the Empire with the robot, which holds the plans, and utters the famous line, "These aren't the droids you're looking for."
Through this whole Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) fiscal monitoring review we get that same feeling we're being told these aren't the droids we're looking for.
News out of Monday night's council meeting only seems to confuse matters further.
The city has proposed to pay back $727,176 over 20 years, according to the original agreement between the city and GRO-Warren.
So the city is going to pay itself back with taxpayer money, and with interest?
No, according to Acting City Manager Mary Ann Nau. Nau said the city officials do not anticipate raising taxes to cover the debt. The city is hoping to recoup funds through successful legal action against GRO-Warren.
We're still left asking questions. Who is accountable for the missing money?
By agreeing to pay back the money, in our eyes, the city is admitting at least some level of responsibility for the missing money.
After all, the city doesn't hold the deed to the ACA building. Warren Business District Coalition does.
What happens if this legal action fails? Will taxpayers then be on the hook?
The city's revenue source is taxpayer dollars.
If the city is just looking to save face and replenish the revolving loan to loan out to other entities, may we make a suggestion: please make sure there is a clear definition between the city and the borrower, whoever it may be.
It seems that distinction did not exist with GRO-Warren and the city.
We like the idea of this loan being administered and used properly in the city. It is a revolving loan to other entities to do further economic development.
Something still just doesn't feel right.
The taxpayers of Warren have yet to be given any real answers of what happened to the money.
The citizens of Warren are sure these are the droids we're looking for.