“Every American citizen is forced to tighten his or her belt and to become fiscally more responsible during this period of economic stress – the county should not be excused from such necessity simply because political in-fighting has polarized county officials from acting in a fiscally responsible manner by reviewing financial information which was reasonably available and foreseeable.”- Judge Ann Lokuta
Judge Lokuta told the county government to get its act together. When I read her decision on Luzerne County's request to borrow another $16 million to cover this year's shortfall I felt like somebody finally gets it. I have been complaining the outright lies and fiction that has passed for a county budget for as long as I have been blogging. Every year they expect millions from land sales that never happen and tell us that beefed up tax collection will bring in tens of millions more that they haven't been able to collect in the past. They offer early outs to employees then hire them back through temp agencies and cronies get no bid contracts that violate state law. A partial archive of my bitching about these practices are available here if you're interested. And how many times have they floated a bond for one purpose then spent it on another project. In 2003 $9 million was borrowed to build a new for a new county-owned juvenile detention facility. It was never built because the Bond Brothers (Skrep and Vondy) decided to sign a 20 year $58 million lease with a private company, PA Child Care, that was owned by a business partner of a couple of local judges. Instead of returning the money or holding on to it to deal with a future emergency that eventually came they spent it on other projects. And it has happened over and over again.
Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla is warning of layoffs and has asked all the department heads for help in cutting costs and they are reported to be helpful. We will see about that. The TL reports that our esteemed head of the county Judiciary told her to take a hike.
Luzerne County Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla said she called county Court of Common Pleas President Judge Mark Ciavarella on Thursday to discuss upcoming employee layoffs, and he refused to cooperate.
Petrilla said the judge told her no layoffs will occur in any court branches, and commissioners can’t “touch” court employees. He said he will get a court order and sue commissioners who attempt to institute layoffs in court branches, Petrilla said.
Those branches include domestic relations, probation services, court administration, district justice offices, central court and stenographers.