There is good news and bad news behind this headline:
First the good news…The Borough of Crafton (near Pittsburgh, PA) was ordered to pay $1.8 million to the previous owners of a property that the Borough seized through eminent domain in 1999. The judgement included $1 million for the property, approx. $600,000 in interest, and $200,000 in legal fees.
Now the bad news…The taxpayers of the Borough of Crafton will be stuck with the $1.8 million bill plus whatever legal fees they burned trying to defend their position. It was reported that this amount is nearly half of the small town’s annual budget. The tax payers lose because of the decisions of their elected officials. I know…they elected them. The folks who made this terrible decision are no longer in office giving the new officials the ready-made excuse that they didn’t do it.
Other news…the property, seized over a decade ago, remains undeveloped.
More news…the Borough vows to appeal the judgement which will cost the taxpayers even more money.
Perhaps the citizens of Crafton should rise up and hold their elected officials (both former and current) responsible for this. Perhaps filing a civil suit against the former commissioners to recover the money would send a strong message that arbitrary decisions made by elected officials will follow them even after they leave office. They certainly share in the responsibility if not owning it completely.