Friday morning's "Eggs and Issues" event at the Conewango Club drew what was noted as a disappointing turnout.
The event, organized by the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry, drew less than 20 attendees to share an early breakfast and hear Warren County Commissioners Stephen Vanco and John Eggleston.
Vanco highlighted some of the key issues that have come before the commissioners so far during his tenure.
Photo by Jacob Perryman
Commissioner John Eggleston speaks to a small crowd Friday morning during the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry’s “eggs and Issues” event at the Conewango Club.
"It's been an interesting nine-plus months since I was sworn in," Vanco said. "I know some people but I've still got a lot of people to meet and my door's open at any time."
Both commissioners made note of the uncertainty facing county-level government in an era of regular budget cuts and unfunded mandates.
"The biggest thing that's been going on is the uncertainty that we're facing... trying to plan ahead without any idea of what's going to happen with the budget," Eggleston said. "They (the state and federal government) can cut the budget at any time."
Eggleston noted some programs have faced funding cuts each of the ten years he's been in office.
Following Vanco's lead in discussing a possible county property tax reassessment, Eggleston pointed out cost, which he cited as being approximately $1.5 million, is prohibitive.
"We know it needs to be done," Eggleston said. "It's just a matter of how do you pay for it."
A property tax reassessment has not been done in Warren County since 1987. Under Pennsylvania law, property tax adjustments cannot be used to compensate for the cost of a reassessment and school districts, which also derive funding from property taxes, are not allowed to help cover the costs.
Eggleston also lamented the state of public knowledge of and participation in civic matters.
"I don't know that the people of Warren County realize that I don't have that much power (as a commissioner)," Eggleston said. "Everything we do is governed by the state, and the state thinks we're idiots. So they pass rules to tell us what to do... I'm bound by the law just like everyone else... We're not the kings of Warren County. We apparently are not teaching civics in school anymore, or, if we are, people are sleeping through it... I'd like to help everybody, but if they're not even aware of how government works, you have to explain it to them first."
Following the speech, attendee Coralee Wenzel prompted a discussion on the lack of civic participation in general. During the discussion, she cited the low turnout at the event as an example.
"This room should be full," Wenzel said.
"The reality of only 20 percent of registered voters showing up to vote in the primaries of what, I think, is an important election is absolutely ludicrous," Eggleston said.