County may con­sider bank switch

Lack­awanna seeks op­tions for bet­ter deal

The Times-Tribune - - LOCAL - BY JEFF HOR­VATH Staff Writer Con­tact the writer: jhor­vath@timessham­; 570-348-9141; @jhor­vathtt on twit­ter

Lack­awanna County of­fi­cials are ex­plor­ing whether a new bank might ben­e­fit the county and its tax­pay­ers.

While the county now uses PNC Bank, com­mis­sion­ers last month au­tho­rized a re­quest for pro­pos­als for gov­ern­ment bank­ing ser­vices to ob­tain the high­est-qual­ity ser­vices at the low­est cost. That doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean the county will switch to an­other bank, but of­fi­cials want to make sure the county gets the best deal pos­si­ble, county Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Tom Durkin said.

The county seeks pro­pos­als prin­ci­pally to man­age its gen­eral fund, the pri­mary fund from which county ex­penses are paid. Money in the gen­eral fund fluc­tu­ates, largely be­cause it’s not an in­ter­est-bear­ing ac­count. Of­fi­cials of­ten keep money in dozens of other ac­counts that ac­crue in­ter­est and use those ac­counts to re­im­burse the gen­eral fund when ex­penses are paid, county Trea­surer Edward Kar­povich said.

“(The trea­surer’s of­fice) watches the ac­tiv­ity in the ac­count very closely in or­der to trans­fer ex­cess funds, not needed to offset bank charges, into in­ter­est­bear­ing in­vest­ments, in or­der to max­i­mize the amount of in­ter­est earned by the county,” Durkin wrote in an email.

One thing of­fi­cials will look for in the bank­ing pro­pos­als is a gen­eral fund that ac­crues in­ter­est, Kar­povich said, not­ing banks’ cus­tomer ser­vice op­er­a­tions are also key.

“The ser­vice end of it is very, very im­por­tant,” Kar­povich said. “Things hap­pen where we need to remedy a sit­u­a­tion quickly and im­me­di­ately, so I need what banks call a re­la­tion­ship man­ager, where I can call him 24/7 and get an im­me­di­ate an­swer to my prob­lem.”

Among the other things the county will con­sider when rank­ing the pro­pos­als are banks’ abil­ity to de­liver timely ser­vice, their over­all cost and ser­vice fees pro­posed and whether they have a pres­ence in down­town Scran­ton near the Lack­awanna County Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter at the for­mer Globe store on Wy­oming Av­enue, ac­cord­ing to the RFP.

All pro­pos­als are due by 2 p.m. Dec. 11. They should be sub­mit­ted to: Lack­awanna County, Chief of Staff Of­fice, 200 Adams Ave., Scran­ton, PA 18503. The county re­serves the right to ac­cept or re­ject any pro­posal.

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