Last updated: June 29. 2014 11:29PM - 2487 Views
By - jandes@timesleader.com

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Luzerne County Councilwoman Linda McClosky Houck has requested an update on the county’s budgeted revenues, saying officials should be addressing spending reductions now if there are indications expected receipts will fall short.

County Manager Robert Lawton presented a detailed report on expenditures running over-budget last week in response to a request from Councilwoman Kathy Dobash. McClosky Houck said attention to the revenue side of the budget is equally important and said she plans to focus on receipts at the July 8 meeting of council’s budget/finance committee, which she chairs.

McClosky Houck requested a basic, year-to-date summary because Lawton will prepare a more in-depth analysis in his mid-year report presented to the full council in August.

• Council Chairman Rick Morelli sent an email to council members last week urging them to focus more on budgetary issues during committee meetings.

“We are getting close to budget time and now is the time to get an idea as to where we stand and what needs to be done so there are no surprises come the end of the year,” he wrote.

• Several council committees will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the council meeting room at the county courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.

• Operational Services Committee Chair Rick Williams is proposing a motion asking the county manager to negotiate the possible state takeover of the county-owned Moon Lake Park in Plymouth Township and Seven Tubs Nature Area in Plains Township.

The county’s citizen Recreational Facilities Advisory Board recently suggested a state takeover as a possible option for the cash-strapped county, Williams noted.

State ownership should be explored before the council considers investing capital funds in Moon Lake Park, Williams said. Councilman Stephen A. Urban suggested using $2 million of the county’s remaining $18 million capital fund on Moon Lake.

• The administration is interviewing applicants for the county information technology director position that has been vacant since Steve Englot retired in October, Lawton said.

• Three deputy sheriffs have been hired this month at a salary of $26,000 — Timothy Janosco, Brian Travis and Anthony Calabro.

Among the other hirings listed in Lawton’s June personnel update: Richard Eyer, 911 supervisor, $33,990; Heather Hunsinger, criminal records office clerk, $23,000; and five correctional officers at starting salaries of $28,155 — James Thiemann, Kenneth Carolus, Colin Pockevich, Wanda Jackson and Joseph Flynn Jr.

• The county will seek bids to replace the two 40-year-old elevators in the county courthouse in several weeks, county Operational Services Division Head Tanis Manseau told council last week. Both elevators stopped working for several hours last month.

• Regular county meeting attendee Brian Shiner, of Kingston, said he was referring to Morelli when he criticized the council chair at last week’s meeting — not council Vice Chairman Edward Brominski, who was running the meeting in Morelli’s absence. Shiner said he doesn’t blame Brominski for halting Lawton’s impromptu presentation during the voting session because the committee and work session structure crafted by Morelli restricts what can be discussed at voting sessions.

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