Budget transfers requested to fund three Luzerne County projects

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

Three Luzerne County government budgetary transfers have been requested to fund two capital projects and a payroll program.

The administration proposes funding the two capital projects — reconfiguration of the basement courthouse entrance and elevator modernization at two county buildings — with savings from a roof replacement project at the Penn Place building in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

A total $600,000 had been earmarked in the county’s capital budget for the roof replacement. The project ended up costing $302,500, freeing up $297,500 for other projects, according to council’s Tuesday work session agenda.

Elevator updates at the Penn Place and domestic relations buildings would require a $125,000 transfer from the $297,500, leaving $172,500.

Another transfer of $150,000 would allow the county to finish the courthouse entrance modifications, the agenda said.

The basement-level entrance on the west side is one of two for the public to access the courthouse, with the other on the first-floor south side.

The administration wants to relocate the basement mapping/GIS department to create an area for courthouse visitors to undergo security screening, saying the change would address long lines of jurors and others during peak periods.

The capital plan had earmarked $50,000 for the project, but bids revealed the project will cost around $200,000, the agenda said.

“If improvements are not made, ingress and egress issues will continue to jeopardize the safety and well-being of residents and staff alike,” the agenda submission says, noting morning jams are delaying employees getting to their work stations.

Modernizing of elevators that have been in service for 20 years or more also is warranted to ensure public safety and reduce maintenance issues and operation disruption, the agenda said.

The payroll software request involves a contract with human resources management company ADP.

The administration signed a contract with the company in June and paid the initial $175,000 implementation expense last year, the agenda said.

A $150,000 transfer from the county’s 2018 general fund operating budget reserve is needed to cover ADP implementation-related travel and expenses, a charge for each employee added to the payroll system, service costs and assistance with W-2 preparation, the agenda said.

The ADP program will replace the county’s labor-intensive paper system with a more efficient computerized version and allow employees to track their amount of time off on their pay stubs, the administration has said.

However, some council members and citizens have questioned the need for the expenditure and the administration’s decision to proceed with the contract without council approval.

The county’s home rule charter said the manager must obtain council approval for contracts or obligations costing $25,000 in any future calendar year for which no budget has been adopted.

The administration has said the project plans were publicly discussed and that the county is not locked into an obligation to keep ADP if the expenditure is not funded by council in 2018.

Luzerne County Courthouse
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_luzcocourthouse01.jpgLuzerne County Courthouse

By Jennifer Learn-Andes


What’s next

Luzerne County Council will discuss the requested transfers during its work session Tuesday, which follows a 6 p.m. voting meeting at the courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

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

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