County council mulls uses for leftover $60K in natural-gas funding

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com
The Luzerne County Courthouse from the Riverfront. Aimee Dilger -
The Luzerne County Courthouse -

After fixing a collapsed River Common fishing pier wall, Luzerne County will have approximately $60,000 in natural-gas funding left for recreational-related projects, officials said during Tuesday’s on-the-road county council meeting at the Dallas EMA building.

One option is for council to continue awarding some or all of this surplus money to municipalities and other outside entities for recreation projects.

Councilman Harry Haas suggested earmarking $5,000 for low-maintenance plants and mulch to spruce up empty beds at the River Common. He and council colleagues Jane Walsh Waitkus and Stephen A. Urban also proposed setting aside some of the funds to help municipalities with gypsy moth spraying.

Operational Services Division Head Edmund O’Neill raised another possibility, saying some citizens have suggested a docking station for boaters who want to access the River Common fishing pier along the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre, stressing he was not referring to a boat launch.

County Manager C. David Pedri said council also could opt to keep the $60,000 in reserve or earmark the entire amount for beautification of the county-owned River Common.

The $60,000 is left from past awards for projects that did not materialize, officials said. The administration said this year’s $281,700 in natural-gas funding will be absorbed primarily by River Common maintenance, black fly spraying estimated at $75,000 and the repair of ice jam damage to the fishing pier, which has been tallied at $50,000 to $60,000.

In other business Tuesday, council:

• Deposited $1.176 million from an expired tax-diversion program into the budget reserve. Subsequent council approval would be needed to use the money for capital projects or something else.

• Discussed plans to seek a cost estimate to repair deteriorated sidewalks in front of the county prison on Water Street, with the possibility of adding the work to the capital plan roster.

• Approved a procedure to auction unused, county-owned properties.

• Failed for a second time to come up the required six votes to fill a citizen vacancy on the authority board that oversees the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre Township. Council was tied 5-5 for nominees James Reino and Neal DeAngelo, with the eleventh council member, Sheila Saidman, absent.

• Received a final report on the cost of the county’s new record storage facility at 85 Young St., Hanover Township, which also houses the county coroner’s office and a morgue. The building purchase and renovation, including a public record viewing access area, totaled $2.75 million, the report said.

Annual operating costs for the new, climate-controlled building will be $59,384, compared to the previous $103,104 to lease a Wilkes-Barre building that was deemed insufficient for record storage due to leaks and temperature extremes, officials said.

The Luzerne County Courthouse from the Riverfront. Aimee Dilger
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_d-2.jpgThe Luzerne County Courthouse from the Riverfront. Aimee Dilger

The Luzerne County Courthouse
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_d-3.jpgThe Luzerne County Courthouse
Natural-gas funding could go in reserve

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.