Recent confusion over Luzerne County contractors serving on outside boards and authorities has prompted a bylaw amendment that’s up for approval at Tuesday’s council meeting.
The county’s home rule charter says employees of businesses that have contracts with the county are prohibited from serving on the county’s outside boards and authorities. However, county Chief Solicitor C. David Pedri and Councilwoman Linda McClosky Houck said the charter wording does not expressly ban individual independent county contractors from serving, even though that appears to be the intent.
Drew Mamary, who had been appointed to the authority overseeing the Mohegan Sun Arena, was disqualified before Pedri became chief solicitor because Mamary works as a contracted deputy coroner for the county. Two other council appointees — Elaine Cook and Frank Bognet — gave up county compensation as independent arbitrators to keep their seats on the Luzerne County Community College Board of Trustees.
The proposed bylaw amendment says no county authority or board member shall serve as a county independent contractor “in any capacity.”
• At least seven people applied for a newly created deputy election director position by Friday’s deadline. The position, which pays $35,000, was added as part of recent restructuring that resulted in three union furloughs.
• County Operational Services Division Head Christopher Belleman had planned to start his new position as county Flood Protection Authority executive director today but said he agreed to remain in the division head post through Oct. 15 to assist with 2014 county budget preparations.
• Tuesday’s council meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the council meeting room at the courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.
Council is scheduled to vote on a two-year contract extension with BI Inc. to handle the county’s day reporting center.
Participating offenders must report to the Wilkes-Barre center for drug testing and mandatory treatment plans, reducing the prison inmate count by an average 100 per day, officials say.
• The county is expected to receive about $1 million in unanticipated revenue in the near future due to a past loan that was paid off early.
A prior county administration obtained a cash advance on unpaid back taxes, a process known as “monetization.” The loan required to provide this cash advance was paid off, which means roughly $1 million in back tax revenue that won’t be needed for the loan can be turned over to the county.
Councilman Rick Morelli asked Lawton about the “windfall” during last week’s budget work session. Lawton said any receipts from the past monetization will be put in a contingency reserve.
• Lawton told Morelli he has not reached a decision on whether he will ask council to complete a monetization this year. The option was included in the 2013 budget adopted by council to address a $4.3 million void, but Lawton said he would try to find cuts and new revenue to avoid or reduce the amount of a cash advance because of the fees involved.