Proposed tax diversion for former Valley Crest Nursing Home site still under review

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com
Luzerne County Courthouse -

Discussions continue on a proposed tax diversion program related to the former Valley Crest Nursing Home property in Plains Township, said county Council Chairman Tim McGinley.

McGinley is among several taxing body representatives serving on a committee developing the proposed tax diversion plan. The taxing bodies would have to approve the plan to participate. The committee met last week to discuss funding, including possible outside revenue sources, he said.

Developer Robert Tambur proposed the diversion, which falls under the Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) program, earlier this year. Property owners within a TIF zone must pay all taxes, but participating taxing bodies agree to sacrifice the portion from new development to pay off a loan to fund the infrastructure.

Tambur wants the TIF to fund reconfiguration of a congested stretch of Route 315 near the Cross Valley Expressway so he can proceed with a $100 million commercial development project at the 62.3-acre former Valley Crest site his family’s company, Tamburro R.E. Development and Management, purchased from the county for $2.075 million in 2015.

• Councilwoman Linda McClosky Houck has asked her colleagues to vote on a more detailed format for the administration’s monthly budget reports, saying her requests for an alteration have been ignored.

McClosky Houck said she had pushed for the creation of monthly reports in the past so council members could stay on top of spending and receipts between quarterly updates. However, the reports are general category overviews that do not track budgetary status in each of the 15 divisions, such as correctional services or the emergency reserve, she said.

“I don’t want to see how many paper clips they buy. I just want to see how that division is performing on a monthly basis,” she said.

County Budget/Finance Division Head Brian Swetz said he will comply with council’s choice and agreed to draft a sample format for council’s review before it votes at the July 10 meeting.

• A council majority last week approved an $80,000 budget reserve transfer to cover public defender’s office expenses for expert expert witnesses in a death penalty case.

• Jane Walsh Waitkus told her council colleagues several state government workers involved in the gypsy moth problem have agreed to travel to Wright Township on July 12 to discuss options.

Walsh Waitkus had agreed to spearhead a committee to review solutions to ward off gypsy moth caterpillars that cause widespread defoliation, although county officials are not making a firm financial commitment. Wright Township representatives appeared before council in May seeking county assistance with spraying in 2019.

• Janice Reindel, a county Children and Youth independent living coordinator, was honored with a proclamation at last week’s council meeting for her recent receipt of an award for her work.

A 32-year county employee, Reindel said she has the best job because she helps older foster children craft and achieve life plans. Three young adults she has assisted and a group of Children and Youth colleagues attended the council meeting to show their support.

• The revamped county website is set to go live July 9.

• Councilman Robert Schnee brought up the “travesty of the tornado” that recently damaged businesses in Wilkes-Barre Township, saying he is thankful there were no major injuries.

Schnee said he is proud of county employees who kept people safe and knew how to respond to such a disaster. He also commended utility workers who dealt with downed wires and other issues and expressed sympathy for those who lost jobs and businesses.

“We’ve gone through adversity before in this county,” Schnee said. “We’re going to be back. We’ve always fought back.”

Luzerne County Courthouse
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_luzernecountycourthouse.jpeg.jpgLuzerne County Courthouse

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

jandes@timesleader.com

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.