Luzerne talks budget
County council scheduled to meet tonight.
WILKES-BARRE — Today will see the first public discussion of proposed amendments to Luzer ne County’s proposed 2018 budget.
As of Sunday, only two of 11 county council members, Kathy Do bash and Harry Haas, had submitted proposed budget amendments, according to council Chair woman Linda McClosky Houck.
Discussion of those amendments is on the agenda for council’s work session tonight, following council’ s 6 p.m. voting meeting.
The Haas and Dobash amendments would reduce or eliminate the proposed 2 percent property tax increase in the 2018 budget that county Manager David Pedri submitted to council last month. Pedri’s proposal also calls for 16 new positions and a 3 percent raise for non-unionized county employees next year.
Ha as proposed a series of amendments that would reduce expenditures for multiple county de par tments and save the county slightly more than $1 million, or about h alf of the $2.1 million the tax increase was projected to generate.
Haas’s proposed changes include the elimination of two proposed new positions in the public defender’ s office and one of three proposed new assistant district attorney positions in the district attorney’ s office.
He proposes line-item expense reductions in six county departments: operational services, courts, corrections, the solicitor’ s office, the public defender and the district attorney.
Haas also proposed that the county utilize a wind- fall from the settlement of a suit with Lackawanna County over the sale of a minor league baseball franchise to cover one-time expenses totaling $375,000. Those expenses include an update to the video conferencing system used by the county’s district courts and safety vests for the Department of Corrections.
Dobash’s proposed amendments would eliminate all pay increases for non-unionized employees as well as the 16 proposed new positions.
Those changes would eliminate the need for a proper ty tax hike, according to Dobash.
Council members are free to propose budget amendments right up to the budget’ s final passage on Dec. 12, Houck said. However, she has requested that all amendments be submitted by the Nov. 28 council meeting to allow time for discussion, she said.
Council will hold a budget work session on Nov. 21 and a budget hearing on Dec. 5.