Luzerne County audit completion pressure building

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

Luzerne County’s administration is working feverishly to continue providing information needed for the overdue 2017 audit so it can be completed by the end of September, county Budget/Finance Division Head Brian Swetz told council last week.

Financial investors expect an audit by Sept. 30, and delays could impact interest rates on future borrowing and refinancing, Swetz said.

Councilwoman Sheila Saidman asked if a missed deadline would hurt the county’s investment-grade credit rating.

“It’s not going to be a positive,” Swetz said. “It’s not a step in the right direction.”

County Manager C. David Pedri had informed council in May the audit would not be completed by the home rule government’s June 30 deadline due to Children and Youth financial-record issues. The delay was troubling, he said at the time, because he was proud to release two on-time audits as manager.

Swetz said he and his staff and Children and Youth fiscal workers have been working closely with the auditor to ensure all requested information is supplied, sometimes remaining at work until 9 p.m. for same-day turnaround.

New positions

The county is seeking an engineer at a salary range of $56,000 to $84,000, with resumes due Sept. 10, according to a posting on the human resources section at www.luzernecounty.org.

An Emergency Management Agency emergency planning manager position also has been posted at $38,500, with applications due Sept. 14.

John Robshaw previously held the planning manager position. He was hired as a county prison lieutenant at $63,000 in June, the manager’s personnel report said.

Council actions

Council voted last week to forgive delinquent taxes on three, flood-damaged properties in Conyngham, Jenkins and Plains townships so they can be acquired and demolished by the municipalities.

The sale of 60 repository properties also was approved. These properties were abandoned by owners and did not sell in back-tax auctions.

Blight

Councilman Harry Haas announced the scheduling of a workshop for townships and boroughs at 5 p.m. Sept. 24 to discuss the process for recommending blighted structures for a new countywide database of abandoned, eyesore properties.

Council last week approved the final budget amendment needed for a county committee to compile the database.

Once the database is completed, the county Redevelopment Authority may consider taking action to remediate the blight.

Volunteer boards

Eight citizens have completed applications to serve on county boards, authorities and commissions, Council Vice Chairman Eugene Kelleher said.

His committee will hold a meeting soon to publicly interview the new roster of prospective nominees.

Applications are available on the county website.

Manager agreement

An ad-hoc council committee negotiating a proposed employment agreement with Pedri has received a proposal from the manager, Kelleher told council last week.

The committee will meet to discuss the proposal and then meet with the manager to discuss it, Kelleher said.

He estimated a recommendation will come before council in a few weeks.

Pedri marked his two-year anniversary as county manager in May.

He was hired at a salary of $120,000. His agreement, which expires the end of this year, provided 2 percent raises in 2017 and 2018, bringing his current compensation to $124,848.

Meeting schedule

The county election board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Penn Place Building on the corner of Market Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Wilkes-Barre.

Luzerne County Courthouse
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/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.