Luzerne County ended in the black in 2021, with new audits

A newly completed audit of Luzerne County determined that the county ended in a budget surplus of $ 4.8 million in 2021, Brian Swetts, head of the county’s budget and finance department, told the council last week. rice field.

According to Swetts, the savings are primarily due to the large number of staff with unfilled budgets. Vacancy helped the county move forward, but he said it also contributed to staff burnout and higher overtime costs.

The mayor, Randy Robertson, said he is working to make the county government a “chosen employer.” He identified hiring and retaining employees as a top priority.

Baker Tilly’s representative, who completed the 70-page audit, will announce the findings at the July council and answer questions, according to Swetts.

Councilor Tim McGinley, chair of the Council’s Budget, Finance and Audit Committee, said Swetts and his staff needed to complete the audit by the June 30 deadline of the County Home Rule Charter. He praised the quick editing of the information.

Possible usage

Mr Swets said the government may propose to allocate at least a portion of the surplus to Congress to replenish the county’s capital project fund.

The county’s proposed annual capital plan, which had to be submitted by June 1 under the Charter, did not require a new project because the funds were essentially depleted, the document said. rice field.

The capital comes primarily from past borrowings and is regularly backed by one-off income.

Only $ 276,206 remains for clear funds. The government is proposing to put these funds into an emergency building fund to cover unexpected problems and needs.

According to the plan, about $ 11 million was included in the fund in 2016. Since then, projects of all sizes, including computer upgrades, building and parking repairs, elevator updates, roof replacements, courthouse repairs, and security enhancements at the dilapidated county prison on Wilkes-Barre’s Water Street. Has been completed. ..

American rescue

The council last week discussed two proposed allocations from the county’s $ 96.3 million with funding for the Federal American Rescue Program that had not yet been allocated to the project.

One project will spend $ 1.86 million to repair and redeve a degraded 3.1-mile section of the county-owned Sweet Valley Road in the towns of Los Angeles and Union, from State Highway 4024 to 4016.

County officials said most of the US rescue funds could not be used for road rehabilitation, except in a more discretionary category known as “loss of income” based on the amount of income the county lost as a result of COVID. I am. -19 Pandemic.

Of the $ 8.9 million, about $ 4 million is still available in the Lost Income category for Congress to allocate, officials said.

The council will vote for the road project later this month.

Prison elevator

The second American Rescue Yearmark offers an additional $ 235,000 to replace the two elevators in the county prison.

In January, the council approved $ 300,000 in American rescue funding for the elevator project, supplementing the already allocated $ 350,000 in county capital and making $ 650,000 available.

However, according to the agenda, only Otis Elevator submitted the bid, which requires an additional $ 235,000.

Several council members requested more information about cost increases during last week’s work session.

Council Chairman Kendra Ladle urged the administration to provide an answer as soon as possible so that the council could attempt to vote at the next meeting on July 12.

“You can’t pull your feet on the elevators in prisons everywhere. It’s your responsibility not to have a safe elevator in prisons, so I agree that you need to know why this hike happened. I don’t think we can continue to delay this process, “Radle said.

The two elevators in the prison date back to the 1980s. After the elevator doors on the 5th floor opened at the base in 2016, some repairs were completed and correctors and prisoners died, but mainly because parts were difficult to replace, motor systems and controls were installed. To find out the authorities say they need to be updated.

Contact Jennifer Learn-Andes (570-991-6388) or Twitter @ TLJenLearnAndes.

Luzerne County ended in the black in 2021, with new audits

Source link Luzerne County ended in the black in 2021, with new audits

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