Township should return the money to the taxpayers

Editor, The News:

In addition to promoting dishonesty, your June 19 editorial regarding the duplicate $463,000 payment to Mahoning Township misses the point. The issue at this time is not the decade-old saga of the failed effort to get a racetrack in Lawrence County and the infrastructure requirements, but rather why the Mahoning Township supervisors failed to realize that they had sent the same invoice twice and hence, received duplicate payments in 2011.

And, more importantly, when the double payment was discovered, they did not immediately return the extra $463,000. It has since returned $50,000.

The News has taken the position that because the Commonwealth made the mistake of sending the money twice and the supervisors applied it to the project, they should not have to return the funds to the Department of Community and Economic Development. I doubt The News would take the same position it is had paid an invoice twice. I think it would expect the duplicate payment to be returned, and so would anyone who made such an error.

Clearly, better financial oversight by both the Commonwealth and the township is needed, but whether the Commonwealth or the township’s consulting engineer discovered the error is not the point. Once discovered in 2012, no further expenses should have incurred using those funds, and reimbursement payments should have been negotiated and started immediately. Avoidable legal fees have now been added to the township’s debt.

Lastly, The News should remember that the initial $5 million grant as well as the extra $463,000 came from all the taxpayers of Pennsylvania, and they deserve to have the full $463,000 returned to them.

Janet Verone

New Castle

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