Last updated: February 23. 2014 11:08PM - 2009 Views
By - jandes@civitasmedia.com

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Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton is scheduled to present a “state of the county” report required by home rule during Tuesday’s county council meeting.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the council meeting room at the courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.

• Council is scheduled to meet in closed-door executive session before the meeting to discuss proposed revisions to the county ethics code, but some council members are backing Kingston resident Brian Shiner’s argument that the matter should be discussed in public to comply with the state’s open-meeting law.

County Chief Solicitor C. David Pedri said council may discuss legal issues involving the code, but council members Jim Bobeck and Linda McClosky Houck sent emails to Pedri and council colleagues saying any discussions about the actual legislation changes should be public.

“I cannot in good conscience ever attend an executive session to discuss legislation,” Bobeck wrote. ” Perhaps I have too much ‘Mr. Smith goes to Washington’ regarding legislative discussions, but the possibility of litigation has been discussed on so many issues before us, and we always still did it in the open.”

McClosky Houck said council members fully discussed revisions to the original drafts of the ethics, administrative and personnel codes in public. Councilman Rick Williams made an “excellent” suggestion for a committee to focus on changes to all three codes proposed by council members and the public, she said.

“I suggest that we direct our attention to the actual revisions rather than argue about the forum for the discussion,” she wrote.

• Council Chairman Rick Morelli recently suggested a council committee research the feasibility of setting up a county day care. He said some other counties provide child care, and it could be a way to generate revenue.

• Kingston Township has joined Kingston’s push for the county to increase payments to home rule municipalities for collecting county taxes to be in line with the $2 paid to elected tax collectors.

The home rule municipalities, which also included Wilkes-Barre Township, agreed to accept $1.50 per bill in 2005 because prior commissioners were prepared to assign the county treasurer’s office to handle the collection in-house. Increasing the payment to $2 for home rule municipalities would cost about $9,000, officials said.

A council committee will review the matter.

• Nancy DeFluri, who was recently hired as an audit clerk by county Controller Michelle Bednar, had worked as a clerk in the county’s Judicial Services and Records Division before she was furloughed.

DeFluri’s original hiring in August had been questioned by some because her husband works in the assessor’s office, but Judicial Services and Records Division Head Joan Hoggarth said at the time that DeFluri was the top applicant after a merit selection process. Choosing the second in line to avoid controversy would have been another form of discrimination against the relative of a county worker, Hoggarth had said.

Bednar said she was unaware of the past question but said she picked DeFluri because she was the best of two qualified applicants.

“She understands county government and has worked with computerized accounting programs before. She is very organized and motivated,” Bednar said.

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