Saturday, July 12, 2014

Unused county vehicles up for grabs

December 15. 2013 11:58PM

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Luzerne County is unloading 23 unused vehicles, including a Ford Taurus with 68,786 miles starting at a bid of $350 and a Chevy pickup with 69,000 miles that must go for at least $400.

Bids will be accepted until 10 a.m. Dec. 20.

The mileage and minimum bid amounts along with information about bidding are available on the request-for-proposals section of the county website,

• County council is slated to discuss a proposal to provide health insurance to same-sex domestic partners of county government employees at Tuesday’s meeting.

Council’s Strategic Initiatives Committee endorsed the initiative, arguing it will level the playing field and make the county more progressive and attractive to future job applicants. Several council members have said they won’t support the change, citing the added cost and state’s failure to legalize same-sex marriages.

The budgetary impact has not been calculated, and no increase for same-sex benefits was factored into the 2014 budget, officials said.

Councilman Jim Bobeck, who is pushing for the benefit proposal, said council would have to vote on the ordinance at two separate meetings, and he did not believe that would happen before the end of the year.

• In addition to Tuesday’s meeting, which starts at 6:45 p.m. in the courthouse council meeting room, council is planning to hold another meeting before the end of the year.

Council Chairman Tim McGinley told council members in an email the potential dates are Dec. 30 or New Year’s Eve, depending on schedules.

• Councilman Stephen J. Urban publicly predicted last week the 2014 budget, which includes an 8-percent tax hike, would be reopened when new council members take office.

Eileen Sorokas and Kathy Dobash begin their terms on council Jan. 6, according to the county’s home rule charter. Both campaigned against tax hikes.

The charter says council can amend the budget before Feb. 15 in the year following a council election, and the first council seated under home rule two years ago amended the budget inherited from county commissioners.

Four of the sitting council members who will remain in office after Jan. 6 voted against the budget — Morelli, Urban, Stephen A. Urban and Edward Brominski. With support from Sorokas and Dobash, there could be six majority votes to amend the budget.

• County controller-elect Michelle Bednar also will take office Jan. 6.

• The administration is finalizing a new purchasing policy, county Manager Robert Lawton said at his public forum last week.

The county still has no formal policy detailing how supplies and services must be procured under home rule. Council had adopted an administrative code in July 2012 requiring the manager to develop uniform procurement policies, procedures and regulations.

• The county’s bank accounts were reduced from 140 to around 30 last week as part of promised streamlining, Lawton said.

• Residents unable to attend Lawton’s annual forum last week may hear an audio recording of the session on the manager’s page of the county website.

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