Mayor drops agency leasing proposal – with a parting shot

Williamsport Mayor Gabriel J. Campana on Wednesday dropped his attempt to get a lease buy-back agreement with the city and Williamsport Municipal Water and Sanitary Authority.

But he didn’t do so without a parting shot across the bow of City Council, which has informally rejected the idea.

Campana said the next city budget he has begun preparing is tight and presents a need for a tax increase without strong measures to cut spending and increase revenue. As far as we know, that’s been the case for the city for about 30 years, maybe more.

“I have tried to increase city revenue but have been rebuffed each time by council,” Campana said, making sure to underline who is responsible for the city’s financial plight.

He believes the lease buy-back agreement with the authority could have brought in up to $4 million a year to city coffers. Even if that is true, we don’t see how that could happen without some water and sewer rate impact on customers of the authorities.

It’s only June, but the mayor is predicting outsourcing of services and employee layoffs with the next budget.

The fingerpointing is the latest episode in a series of spats that have been occurring between council and the mayor, most of them happening when the mayor proposes something and council opposes it.

Council President Jonathan Williamsport has noticed the increased amount of name calling.

“I hope we will not be modeling that behavior,” he commented at last week’s council meeting, suggesting the alternative of council doing it’s job, agreeing to disagree at times and finding a common purpose to reach solutions on behalf of the city.

“That’s what serious adults do,” he said.

Ironically, the mayor was a longtime council member – a maverick one at that – before being elected to office.

He should know better than to call City Council “anti-development,” even as work starts on the East Third Street/Old City Gateway Development that was council initiated.

His 12 years experience on council should make him eminently qualified to understand the best means to building council consensus to get ideas and proposals approved. We are pretty certain constant public fingerpointing at the legislative body is not the best methodology.

What it really does is make Williamsport residents look very closely at the alternative forms of government they are considering this fall – home rule and council-city manager – that would reduce mayoral powers considerably and take a lot of the political tug-of-war out of city government business.