Last updated: May 18. 2014 11:14PM - 3964 Views
By - jandes@timesleader.com

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Luzerne County spent $20 million through March 31 and brought in $16.2 million, according to a 2014 first-quarter report issued this week.

County Manager Robert Lawton posted the report on his section of the county website (www.luzernecounty.org) last week to comply with an administrative code deadline, though he plans to discuss finances in more detail at Thursday’s council work session.

County Budget/Finance Division Head Brian Swetz said the $3.1 million difference is not evidence the county is headed for a deficit.

Most of the $3 million was for annual contracts recorded as expenses at the start of the year, even though actual installment payments will be made throughout the year, he said. Some revenue owed for the first quarter also arrives the end of April, including federal and state reimbursements, Swetz said.

• Council’s monthly work session was postponed from Tuesday to Thursday due to the election, though the election tabulation is now handled at the county’s Penn Place Building instead of the courthouse, where council meets. The work session starts at 5:30 p.m. in the council meeting room at the courthouse.

• Council is slated to discuss a recommendation to continue retaining Northeast Revenue Service LLC as the county tax-claim operator. County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis also will present an annual report required by the home rule charter.

• Chickens also are on Thursday’s agenda for discussion.

Councilman Rick Williams and other members of the council operational services committee he chairs had planned to take more time drafting a proposed zoning ordinance allowing backyard hens in residential areas before presenting the proposal to the full council for consideration.

Council Chairman Rick Morelli wants council to take a position for or against backyard chickens, saying the issue should be put to rest if a council majority does not support a potential zoning change.

Some critics and bloggers hold up the ongoing chicken debate as a symbol of council dysfunction, but several council members say they have a responsibility to thoughtfully consider citizen requests that may not seem important to many.

• The county Redevelopment Authority did not receive any proposals by last week’s deadline from commercial real estate consultants to help market and sell its 6.24-acre property at the corner of Market Street and Wilkes-Barre Boulevard in Wilkes-Barre, which includes the historic New Jersey Central train station.

Authority Executive Director Andrew Reilly said he has contacted one company that was interested but unable to meet the deadline. The matter will be discussed at Tuesday’s authority meeting.

• Council’s charter review committee that is discussing possible home rule charter changes for the November ballot will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the council meeting room.

The county Flood Protection Authority that oversees the Wyoming Valley Levee also will hold an evening meeting Wednesday for the convenience of citizens who aren’t available during the day — a first in recent memory. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Forty Fort Municipal Building on Wyoming Avenue.

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