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Council to vote on head of division


May 19. 2013 11:34PM


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Luzerne County Council will hold a special meeting on election night Tuesday to vote on the nomination of Joan Hoggarth as judicial services and records division head.


Council members had scheduled a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday on proposed 2013 budget amendments but didn’t plan to discuss other matters.


The special meeting to vote on the division head was added late last week after county Manager Robert Lawton submitted Hoggarth’s nomination to the post.


Lawton’s initial nomination of Colorado resident Linda A. Coxen did not receive the required six votes.


* Lawton is expected to reduce Hoggarth’s proposed division head salary to around $70,000 because several council members may not support her nomination at $75,000.


Coxen had been willing to accept the position at $67,500.


Councilman Rick Morelli sent Lawton an email last week asking him to explain why Lawton is proposing a $75,000 salary for Hoggarth, Lawton’s “second choice.”


Lawton told Morelli that Hoggarth has been performing the interim division head duties since September and has a decade of experience working in the county, which will “shorten — or, perhaps, eliminate — the learning curve.” Hoggarth’s position as acting recorder of deeds, which paid $41,200, also will be eliminated, he said.


* Five of the 11 council members voted against Coxen’s appointment, and Councilman Harry Haas abstained, citing a $100 campaign contribution from attorney Jim Haggerty, who served on the interviewing panel for the position.


Council members Morelli and Jim Bobeck have questioned Haas’ abstention, with Morelli calling it a “cop-out.”


Haas said he is standing by his decision and also will abstain from the vote on Hoggarth.


“Given the long history of ‘pay-to-play’ politics in our area, it is my duty to be vigilant against opening up our county, myself or my supporters to even the slightest appearance of impropriety. For that, I do not regret my decision whatsoever,” Haas said.


Haas also fired back at Morelli without naming him.


“One member of council who took hundreds of dollars of campaign donations from tax collectors and who voted lock-step when given the cost-saving opportunity to collect taxes in-house actually had the audacity to call my vote a ‘cop-out.’ If the opposite of that label is a ‘sell-out,’ then I’ll wear that badge proudly,” Haas said.


* Tuesday’s council budget hearing and special meeting will be held in the second-floor jury room of the county courthouse in Wilkes-Barre because the council meeting room will be occupied by election workers.


* The county Flood Protection Authority will meet at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the county’s Emergency Management Agency Building, Water Street, Wilkes-Barre. The authority must find an engineer to oversee the Wyoming Valley Levee now that county Chief Engineer Joe Gibbons and former authority Executive Director and Engineer Jim Brozena are no longer on staff.


* Council’s Strategic Initiatives Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the jury room. The committee is slated to continue discussing code amendments and health benefits, vacation days and other workforce standards.


* Council Chairman Tim McGinley said council will hold its first on-the-road meeting at 6 p.m. May 28 at the Hazle Township Commons Building, 103 W. 27th St., Hazle Township.


* The county will hold a free electronic recycling for residents on June 8 in Butler Township and June 15 in Hanover Township. Information is available at www.luzernecounty.org.




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