Thursday, January 6, 2011

Time to give up the ghost, Kilbuck

Originally tonight, I was going to write about Detroit shrinking their city footprint, but I read something in the Post-Gazette tonight that I needed to comment on first.

Last year, I wrote about my pie-in-the-sky idea to consolidate Allegheny County's 130 muncipalities into 20-some municipalities. One of the best examples of a municipality to consolidate has always been Kilbuck Township. I have long been fascinated with Kilbuck and hoped to see it be consolidated into one of its neighbors by now. A few years back, a guy named Russ Hardiman ran for the elected position of Supervisor with the express purpose of working to consolidate/dissolve Kilbuck Township. As one man on a committee of 3, that was going to be an uphill fight. Multiple times I was very close to sending Mr. Hardiman a letter of support for his efforts, but instead I chose to just observe quietly from a distance.

In today's P-G North section, there was an article detailing how Kilbuck and Avalon are sharing services to cut costs. And by "sharing", the article shows how Kilbuck is leeching off of Avalon and Ohio Township due to their financial hardships. Kilbuck, with a robust population of 710, disbanded their police force a few years back and contract those services with Ohio Township. Three years ago, Kilbuck chose not to replace their part-time secretary and started contracting those services with Avalon, using their full-time manager, Harry Dilmore.

Kilbuck is in dire financial straits due to a loan of $1.25M that was taken out to pave EVERY street in the Township a few years back. Kilbuck took the 12 year loan out thinking that the $108,000 loan repayment wouldn't be a problem once the Walmart development was up and running and pumping money into their coffers.

Until that day during the initial site prep for Walmart when the entire site came sliding down on Route 65, blocking nearly the entire width of Ohio River Boulevard. I'm not going to get into the engineering ethics issues with this project, as the methods employed by the engineering companies to create shell companies to minimize liabilities is professionally repulsive to me. And that's just for starters.

The sad part is that Kilbuck allowed this Walmart development on a steep slope with poor soils because they were greedily chasing tax revenue development dollars. They saw Walmart as the means to solve their financial problems. If there was county-wide land development and planning (real planning, not the farce that exists right now with Allegheny County Economic Development), someone would have disallowed this money-grab of a development. Not every piece of green grass or woods needs to have development. You need to be smart about it.

So with no Walmart to whore off of, Kilbuck now has to repay $108,000 out of their $500,000 budget each year for the road paving loan. Brilliant. To raise cash, Kilbuck is now considering selling their municipal building and fire department building.

And did I mention that Avalon plows the snow on Kilbuck's roads? And that Kilbuck has no public works department?

To recap --
No police department
No manager
No snow plowing
No public works
May sell their buildings

What's the point of even being a community, Kilbuck? There are no municipal services that you provide your residents. Everything is shared or contracted. You have 710 people.

The last word in the article is from a retired tax collector and councilman of Avalon (read: old guy) who stresses that Avalon and Kilbuck are not merging. "With the shared services we already have, what do you gain by merging?"

I don't know...the municipal equivalent of pulling the plug on a brain-dead patient? At this point, it's just academic. Kilbuck should give up the ghost of being a named muncipality. Currently, they are a ghost. The Ghost of Western Pennsylvania's Outdated Past.


  1. Wow. You went all "angry young man" there, didn't you?

    So, does an evil ex-wife live in Killbuck or something? :)

    I must admit....I don't even know where it is.

  2. Exactly. If you don't know where it is at all, it's not worth anything. Kilbuck and at least 25 other municipalities need to close up shop and quit wasting taxpayer time and money.