Luzerne County capital project roster still up in the air

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

It’s still unclear if Luzerne County will proceed with more courthouse restoration or add security cameras and outdoor lighting because council members haven’t publicly hashed out options.

Council Chairman Tim McGinley included the proposed capital plan on both July work session agendas, but council members did not seek additional detailed information or discuss whether they support earmarking the money at this time.

Only two council meetings are left to iron out a capital plan before county Manager C. David Pedri’s proposal automatically takes effect Sept. 1.

Council is free to remove or add projects before then.

Under Pedri’s plan, a total $1.3 million would be spent primarily on parking lot repairs and additional courthouse restoration, leaving only $664,246 for future capital projects.

Pedri later outlined the possibility of adding cameras and lighting to the mix.

Quotes also are being sought for another potential addition — the repair of uneven and deteriorating prison sidewalks.

The cameras would cost approximately $287,243 and monitor and record people in and around several county buildings.

More lighting, primarily for the courthouse and annex parking areas, would cost an estimated $449,500 to $714,500, depending on the scope, the administration has said.

Both the cameras and lighting projects could be scaled back to reduce the expense, Pedri said.

Pedri stressed he did not initiate the lighting proposal. The administration tallied the potential cost because at least one council member expressed concerns that the rear courthouse lot was too dark, he said.

Restoration

Pedri told council earlier this month he stands by his request to continue interior courthouse restoration and repair parking lots.

Proposed at $650,000, this second phase of courthouse work would restore, repair and conserve first-floor walls, ceilings and floors not addressed in the recently completed $2.13 million rotunda and south lobby restoration.

A representative of Connecticut-based John Canning Co., which completed the rotunda/south lobby project, told council in March that restoration was still warranted in other courthouse foyers and hallways on all three floors. The first floor contains the most artwork, including extensive mosaic sections that are largely intact but dirty and murals that were inaccurately touched up, covering the original intent, he said.

The $550,000 for parking would resurface lots at eight county-owned buildings, including Penn Place, the Courthouse Annex, West Side Annex, Hanover Township Annex and Human Services Building.

A $100,000 reserve for emergency repairs at county-owned buildings also was proposed, bringing his total request to $1.3 million.

Council’s two meetings before the capital plan deadline are scheduled for Aug. 14 and 28.

McGinley instructed council members to send questions about capital projects, but he said Friday he has not received any inquiries or feedback to date.

The proposed capital plan does not include two more future capital projects that the administration has said are unavoidable — new paper-trail voting machines estimated to cost $4 million and a 911 radio communications system overhaul projected at $20 million.

The county has a 2018 budget reserve that can be fully or partially earmarked to capital projects if the money is not earmarked for emergencies or other expenses this year. The reserve contains $5.96 million with last week’s addition of $1.176 million from an expired tax diversion program.

Luzerne County Courthouse
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_luzcocourthouse01-7.jpgLuzerne County Courthouse

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.