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County Facing Financial Fight

County Controller calls financial situation "the worst he's ever seen."
EBENSBURG, CAMBRIA COUNTY - Funds have been hard to come by in Cambria County for a few years, but this year could set a new low.
 
 “In my 10 years, this is the worst I’ve ever seen it. We have never had to start borrowing money from agencies. We have never had to delay payment of bills this early in the year,” Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic Jr. says.
 
Cernic says right now the county has about $5 million to pay more than $16 million in obligations, and he doesn't see it getting any better.
 
“I am not optimistic that we can make it through the end of the year paying bills on a 60 to 90 day basis,” Cernic Jr. says.
 
This problem isn't new. Last year, the county owed six million dollars at the end of the year.
 
Cernic blames the county commissioners’ budgeting for the struggles, but they say it's too early to tell.
 
“We won't have a good solid definitive number probably until October when we look at what some of the agencies bring into the county,” Cambria County Commissioner Doug Lengenfelder says.
 
Lengenfelder says the county is making progress, especially after years of financial problems.
 
“You can't expect a number like that to just disappear overnight, so you can expect this sort of discussion to occur every year for the next few years as we work through this,” Lengenfelder says.
 
One option for the county is delaying payments to local agencies and businesses, but both Cernic and Lengenfelder agree, no matter who's to blame, that's something they'd like to avoid.
 
“It's those smaller businesses that can least afford a delayed payment. Larger businesses can often afford it easier,” Lengenfelder says.
 
“If we owed them a thousand dollars thats a lot of money to those folks and times are tight enough,” Cernic says.
 
Cernic and Lengenfelder say delaying payments is pretty common among most counties. They say most companies have been forgiving with the county and they'll most likely be relying on them to do the same this winter.

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