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Locally, Bailout Fear And Investment Worry

They were more than a hundred miles apart at the time, but Congressman Charlie Dent and members of the Pottsgrove (PA) School District Board of Education seemed to worry Tuesday night (Sept. 23, 2008) about the same thing: financial security.

Dent sat in Washington D.C., talking by phone with news reporters. In an unrelated event, board members sat in the district’s Kauffman Road administration building, talking with each other and district Business Manager David Nester. Their shared topic, one that’s occupied many a conversation lately, was the troubled state of the nation’s economy.

Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican whose 15th Congressional District includes Sanatoga and Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township, was telling the media he hoped Congress could conjure up alternatives to the national financial bailout plan sent to Capitol Hill earlier this week by President Bush. The White House proposal calls for spending around $700 billion to rescue failing lenders and foreclosure-plagued homeowners.

During his teleconference, Dent said constituents with whom he’s talked harbor “grave concern” that the bailout package is too big and being pushed through too quickly. Talk in Washington is that the massive plan, still being negotiated, could come to votes in the House and Senate as early as this weekend.

Dent understands “the need and urgency to inject liquidity into the market place,” he said, but also is “wary of authorizing a blank check to the United States Treasury on behalf of American taxpayers.” Dent offered no specific alternatives himself, but expressed a need for Congress to review “all of the options.”

Before Tuesday's Pottsgrove school board meeting.

One of three Pottsgrove conference tables.

Roughly 150 miles northeast of Washington, beneath the lights of their conference room during a monthly work session, Pottsgrove school board members expressed related concerns. Unnecessarily, it seems.

The board quizzed Nester, a certified public accountant who oversees the district’s finances, about the safety of money salted away for future expenses like school building renovation. “Everything we have is insured or collateralized,” Nester assured them, and added the district holds nothing he considers a “speculative” investment.

He said he prefers earning conservative returns – interest rates ranging between 3 and 4 percent – on the district’s savings than court greater risks for higher gains. “I’d rather be boring,” Nester said.

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