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Same Problem at Every Level

The middle of February can mean just one thing. Spring Training has begun in Florida and Arizona for America’s pastime of summer. Wish I were there. Here on the local front, great high school basketball and wrestling action takes the main stage as the regular seasons wrap up and District Championship play gets underway. If you’re looking for something to do, get out and support your local team and young folks. A big crowd and school spirit only enhances this special experience for area student athletes. Besides, compared to the cost of everything else it’s a cheap night out.

One thing that isn’t cheap is the cost of government on every level in today’s world. It doesn’t matter if I’m looking at school, local municipalities, Lycoming County or the proposed nightmare that is Governor Wolf’s budget one thing is in common. Budget deficits and those overused words—we are looking for every way not to have an increase to the local taxpayer. Just how does this work, especially when this has become an every year problem in the fiscal world of today?

Well folks, I’m here to tell you it does not work, that is what has gotten our Nation into the $20 trillion debt our Country has racked up.

I would not want the job in today’s environment whether it be South Williamsport School Board president John Engel or Lycoming County Commissioners Tony Mussare, Jack McKernan or Rick Mirabito of trying to balance the books and provide the best services possible. We need to remember no one wants to utter the words tax increase.
The current problems in Harrisburg affect the availability of funding. This combined with increased pension and healthcare costs passed down from the State level make it difficult to manage local budgets. We also have to remember what has happened in the past is now the responsibility of current elected officials. This is a very tough scenario to manage at any level.

I sat down with our county commissioners a week or so ago and the complete interview can be viewed on Webb Weekly Live. They have managed to cut the county budget deficit from around $15 million to about $9 million. That has been a good start to solving the problem. The obvious question is where do you come up with the remaining balance? I do feel our County Commissioners are doing the best job they can with the hand they have been dealt. The big problem on every level is the increase of costs for basic services, a non-growing tax base and the fact no one wants any program, job, or what is important to them cut.

I do know it has been reported Pennsylvania’s deficit could grow to $1.7 billion in the next fiscal year if we continue on with current policies. You cannot increase spending and solve this problem. Governor Wolf’s current budget proposal calls for a 3.2% increase in new spending. His proposed legislation includes a broad base tax increase on business, especially the Marcellus Shale industry. Overall he is asking for what equates to over $1 billion in new taxes. This is not the answer for stimulating our state’s economic growth.

God Bless America.

Everyday Player

Tip of whatever cap you need to order to Scott Niklaus at Harder Sporting Goods. Scott has owned and/or operated the store on Lycoming Creek Road for 35 seasons or years, take your pick. Along with the help of his family, they have provided the right length bat or perfectly fit glove for more ball players of all ages then I can write in on a box of lineup cards. As Harders on Pine Street was one of my and my Dad’s favorite stops, so has been Scott’s store in the West End for Jimmy, Hunter and I.

Scott has been a long time supporter of the Williamsport Millionaires and area athletics. He coached both boys’ and girls’ basketball at Lycoming Valley. He scouted for Millionaire head coach Pete White and was working in the program during the ‘Magical Days’ of the title run. He also put on the striped shirt and was a PIAA basketball official for nine years.

For the past 12 years Scott has volunteered his time to Jim Winder and West End Babe Ruth Baseball. He has managed, served on the board, and umpired. He is truly passionate about teaching baseball and providing the best program possible for young ball players when they reach the big field after Little League. He has managed two teams to Pennsylvania State Babe Ruth championships and onto East Regional play.

Scott, along with grandson Ryan, can be found for whatever you need for the upcoming season at their familiar post behind the counter at Harders. What has made Harders is their family approach to customer service and providing the best knowledge of their products. Something that has become lost in today’s world of big box stores.
“I get the most satisfaction and joy when a player I once fitted or helped is now bringing their son or daughter in for whatever they need,” Scott stated. I can tell you that is also a special moment for the family passing down that tradition like I did with Jimmy and Hunter.

Scott also wanted to say, “Thank you to all my customers, players and the great people of our area I’ve worked with over the years. The relationships we have built are what is most important.”

Scott and his wife Judy have been married for 33 years and are active at the Omega Presbyterian Church. Thanks again Scott for all you have done for my sons. Keep up the great ‘Play to Win’ but doing it the right way approach not only at Harders but at whatever you do.

Jim Webb

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