Pedri: Luzerne County receives leftover TIF funds from redevelopment authority

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
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WILKES-BARRE — Luzerne County has received its portion of the funds left over from a municipal project fund, according to an email sent Tuesday by county Manager C. David Pedri.

The email, which was initially sent to members of county council, was forwarded to a Times Leader reporter by Pedri.

He said the county has received a check for $1,176,011.59 from the county’s redevelopment authority, its portion of the leftover funds from the Highland Park Boulevard TIF, or Tax Incremental Financing plan.

The TIF, which was formed in 1998, was created as part of a plan to fund improvements to Highland Park Boulevard, Mundy and Coal streets. The project was a joint venture between the county, the Wilkes-Barre Area School District and Wilkes-Barre Township.

The parties in the TIF had declared the project complete, but the redistribution of the nearly $3 million remaining was delayed by a lawsuit filed by the City of Wilkes-Barre.

The city claimed to be a party to the project and argued the undertaking would not be complete until Coal Street was extended to meet with Pennsylvania Avenue at Union Street.

Wilkes-Barre had filed for a temporary injunction, which would’ve stopped the redevelopment authority from redistributing the money until after the culmination of the lawsuit.

But after a lengthy hearing in mid-June, Luzerne County Judge Thomas F. Burke Jr. ruled against the city’s injunction request, saying Wilkes-Barre had failed to prove it would be “irreparably harmed” if the funds were distributed.

‘A long road’

In his email Tuesday, a seemingly triumphant Pedri said he was glad to see this chapter of the story come to a conclusion.

“This was a long road, but it has proven to be a fruitful one,” Pedri wrote. “The full dissolution of the Highland Park TIF has been a priority for the County Administration for the past 2 years. I am pleased that after years of legal and municipal wrangling we are finally able to close this out for the benefit for the Luzerne County taxpayer.”

According to Pedri’s email, the check would remain locked in the treasurer’s safe until council votes on which account to deposit the funds into.

Although it was not immediately clear if the school district and the township had received their checks, district solicitor Ray Wendolowski said he was told over the weekend the checks had been cut and sent in the mail.

The Times Leader has previously reported their portions work out to $1.6 million for the school district and $87,000 for the township.

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By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan