The LuLac Edition #651, Nov. 26th, 2008
PHOTO INDEX: THE LUZERNE COUNTY COURTHOUSE.
COUNTY TO CUT
Luzerne County commissioners approved a new budget today which includes spending cuts of approximately $16 million. The new budget also calls for over 100 job cuts. Department heads and row officers will be working on the specifics and determining exactly how many employees will need be eliminated in order to comply with the new spending reduction. The job cuts will be determined by the row officers as well as the other county officials. The assumption is that commissioners will cut spending across the board, row offices and court branches included, and leave it up to each department head and row officer to sort out what purchases or staff must be eliminated. Taxpayers should not expect specifics about staff reductions to be managers and row officers would need time to iron out details in each office. There are some county officials who have made noises about lawsuits but Commissioners Petrilla and Urban told the press they can't worry about those threats when they are trying to put the county back on a firm financial footing. Budget hearings have been conducted over the last few weeks and the Commissioners along with Budget Director Tom Pribula have given the row officers and department heads every opportunity and time to study their bottom lines and make logical if not intelligent cuts.
CITY HALL FIREWORKS
Last night city taxpayer advocates made their presence known and in return the City Council and the Mayor gaveled them but not their concerns away. Bob Kadluboski, the owner of City-Wide Towing, had an exchange with Leighton and Chairwoman Kathy Kane, criticizing the city for counting council members’ years as full-time employment when calculating pension benefits. The Bobster said that private business would not tolerate such a sweet pension deal and just as things were getting interesting with the Mayor, Council Chair Kathy Kane threw down the gavel. Sam Troy made a comment about how the Council could sleep at night and was shushed to a lul but he did manage to make the comment that the local colleges should participate more in city funding. Leighton said the local schools are already good partners and neighbors. Walter Griffith, a former candidate for Council city and district wide said the city should work to reduce its debt in the face of the country's financial crisis, and the city’s own budgetary issues. Mayor Leighton’s $40.85 million budget proposal is about $2.54 million, or 6.6 percent, greater than this year’s $38.31 million spending plan. The Mayor has blamed the increase on ballooning health care costs and a $1 million contract settlement with the firefighters union. In terms of health care costs, do part time Council members get health care, a health care buyout and do city workers families get free health care? If they do, that could be a place to cut and save.