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Our opinion: Set spending priorities

Would a $150,000 lighting project be a nice addition to trail along the Allegheny River in Crescent Park in Warren?

Absolutely.

Is the project worth the $75,000 required in local tax dollars without knowing the how badly state and local income tax receipts have been damaged by COVID-19?

Absolutely not.

Such is the way government works, particularly when the money in question is state money that comes with strings attached. Originally, the $75,000 in local funding was used to secure a $75,000 grant for new playground equipment at Beaty Park.

It turns out timing issues mean the money can’t be used at Beaty Park, but the city’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant manager is willing to reallocate the $75,000 in local money, and the accompanying $75,000 in state funding, to the Crescent Park project.

Mayor Maurice Cashman and Councilman Gregory Fraser are right to question spending money on trail lights when there are major uncertainties looming when the City Council begins talking about its 2021 budget this fall. Locking the city into unnecessary spending while possibly having to lay off city employees or ask taxpayers ask for a tax increase is a bad decision.

A better idea is for state officials to re-examine its own spending priorities for the coming year.

Tough decisions are going to have to be made, and state and city officials might as well start practicing fiscal prudence now.

Any non-essential spending, by either the state or its local governments, should be delayed until everyone has a better idea how much financial damage COVID-19 has caused.

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