Sunday, July 13, 2014

Number of registered voters down due to purge

October 13. 2013 11:51PM

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Last week was the deadline for new registrations to vote in the Nov. 5 general election, but the overall number of Luzerne County voters has decreased since the May primary due to a purging.

County Election Director Marisa Crispell-Barber said hundreds of voters were removed from the rolls because they confirmed they have moved outside the county.

The relocations were detected through an address-change verification required annually, she said. The state’s computerized election program flagged 7,000 voters with registered addresses that don’t match those reported to the U.S. Postal Service, she said.

Crispell-Barber’s office mailed letters to all 7,000 and eliminated those who returned verification they no longer reside in the county, she said.

The county had 195,456 registered voters in May, and the number has dipped below 195,000, said Crispell-Barber, who will compile and release a statistical breakdown next week.

• Email traffic was light last week between county council members, with only four exchanges posted on the county website as part of the new initiative to keep the public informed of electronic communications outside meetings.

Three were between Council Chairman Tim McGinley and Councilman Stephen J. Urban because McGinley accidentally sent Urban’s council clerk evaluation form to another councilman, and the fourth involved contact information regarding the pending 2012 county audit.

• County Manager Robert Lawton’s proposed 2014 budget is due Tuesday.

• The county administration has decided to hold a “festival of trees” in the courthouse rotunda this holiday season and is seeking participation from community organizations who want to provide decorated trees for display. Interested groups should contact Brittany Burgess (570) 825-1634 or Jennifer Thomas at (570) 825-1635 by Nov. 1.

• Gene Klein, a former county chief clerk/administrator who worked through several past commissioner administrations, said end-of-the-year cash shortfalls weren’t an issue during his tenure because he and the controller’s office ensured commissioner budgets did not count on receipts they knew wouldn’t arrive until the following year.

This approach is necessary in county government, Klein said, because the county budget is based on the calendar year, while state and federal reimbursements are based on different fiscal calendars. Klein said some federal and state reimbursements take months or even a year to arrive.

County officials are again planning to temporarily borrow millions of dollars from funds in various county departments because there’s not enough cash on hand to cover payroll and debt repayments through the end of the year.

• Pittston Township resident James Haddock started his new $47,500 position Monday as county overseer of civil and criminal records offices, also known as prothonotary and clerk of courts.

County Judicial Services and Records Division Head Joan Hoggarth said she received positive critiques from some workers in these departments last week.

“He’s digging right into all aspects of both offices,” Hoggarth said.

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