The first casualty of Williamsport's upcoming 2013 budget deliberations appears to be the position of economic development director.
Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said on Tuesday that there isn't enough money in the city's budget for 2013 to pay for an economic development director.
The mayor and Council President Bill Hall have both expressed a desire to have an economic development director who would man a cental office where developers could turn and to market city assets.
But the mayor said the city's rising health care and retired employee pension costs leave the city without the budgetary leeway for an economic development director.
We suspect an economic development director's position won't be the last casualty laid at the feet of these costs.
The costs for the benefits related to public sector jobs tend to be significantly greater than those in the private sector and city government is no exception.
It would be great if the city and its unions could revisit the salary and benefits packages taxpayers are funding right now, but we are not holding our breath.
As for the economic development position, if the city is going to do without the position, we believe it becomes more important than ever that the mayor, his administration and City Council have thorough communication on prospective developments.
There are lots of plans on the table for the city, particularly in the central business district, and lots of directions the future of downtown could go in.
The ultimate outcome on these plans shouldn't be decided in a vacuum, given that generations to come will be living with the results.