Luzerne County Council faces busy agenda in addition to budget passage


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In addition to passing a 2022 budget, Luzerne County Council is due to vote tonight to fill a vacant seat on the director search committee, close legal fees in a dispute involving the district attorney’s seat, and decide on a lease related to the settlement of another lawsuit.

It is also the last meeting of the five outgoing council members.

Linda McClosky Houck and Harry Haas are leaving because they have served the three consecutive terms authorized by the County Self-Government Charter, both since the autonomy implementation ten years ago, in January 2012. The Board members Sheila Saidman and Matthew Vough are completing their terms. because they weren’t reelected last month.

These four seats will be filled by the winners of the November general election Kevin Lescavage, John Lombardo, Brian Thornton and Gregory S. Wolovich Jr.

Walter Griffith’s seat will be vacant after taking the oath of office as the newly elected county comptroller on January 3, meaning a majority of the remaining 10 council members must choose his replacement on the Republican council in 2022.

Those remaining on the board: LeeAnn McDermott, Tim McGinley, Chris Perry, Kendra Radle, Robert Schnee and Stephen J. Urban.

Manager search

Council has agreed to contact previously publicly interviewed citizen candidates for the Manager Search Committee to determine if they are interested in filling a committee seat vacated by Ray Wendolowski.

McGinley said on Monday that he contacted the previous seven candidates and was told that five were still ready to serve: Angelo P. Grasso Jr., John Magagna, Walter S. Mitchell Jr., Patrick Musto and Jeffrey Rockman .

The two remaining former candidates – George F. Hayden and Michael Reich – have withdrawn their candidacies, McGinley said.

This external committee must “recommend the candidates it deems most qualified” for the post of senior county officer. The Board then conducts its own interview and final selection, with seven votes required to hire the manager.

The new person appointed to the search committee will join committee members Chris Hackett, Sherri Homanko, Rick Morelli, Brian D. O’Donnell, Patrick Patte and Alec Ryncavage. They plan to start looking for candidates for the director’s post on December 27.

Litigation DA

Hired by the County Council, Stevens & Lee billed the County $ 33,143 for its handling of the Litigation Board and County District Attorney, Sam Sanguedolce, jointly filed on the County Electoral Council’s decision to place the DA race. on the general election ballot last month, according to information provided to Council members.

The Board had already approved $ 30,000 in budget transfers to pay Stevens & Lee, but another transfer will be needed to close the bill.

The Council is set to vote on a budget transfer and terminate services at the law firm, apparently because it has no plans to pursue further legal actions.

While the underlying litigation is still pending in county court, the council and the prosecutor’s office lost their appeal in Commonwealth court. The appeal had challenged Chester County Senior Judge Robert J. Shenkin’s refusal of their preliminary injunction trying to prevent the county electoral board from holding the DA elections on November 2 for a two-year term.

Sanguedolce ran unopposed and won.

Lease

Council voted in September to pay $ 585,000 to purchase a three-parcel residential property on Susquehanna Avenue in West Pittston to close the 2018 lawsuit filed by Richard and Kimberly Hazzouri. This lawsuit argued that the borough had not sufficiently advertised the possibility of participating in a former buyback program financed by disaster recovery funds channeled by the county following the record flooding of the Susquehanna River in 2011, officials said.

The total settlement stands at $ 650,000, and county officials said the remaining balance would be paid by non-county defendants and / or their insurance.

Council is expected to vote tonight on a settlement-related lease that would allow plaintiffs to rent the property while they obtain a new residence, according to documents posted on the county’s website. This lease would be $ 200 per month for a period of up to two years, according to the documents. The Hazzouris would pay for utilities and upkeep / upkeep but would not be responsible for property taxes, flood insurance or damage / liability insurance, according to the documents.

As with all pending litigation, the lease should be discussed in an executive closed session before council votes.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the County Courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre. Instructions for attending the meeting remotely are posted under the public council meetings online link at luzernecounty.org.

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