There appears to be high interest in this year's General Municipal Election, which will take place next Tuesday.

Frannie Brennan, director of the registration bureau reported to the Schuylkill County commissioners at their work session Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville that 1,815 applications for absentee ballots were sent out and to date 1,314 have been returned. The deadline for absentee ballots to be received in the election bureau in Pottsville is 5 p.m. Friday.

Budget talk

Paul Buber, fiscal administrator for the county, announced the preliminary budget for 2012 will be presented to the county commissioners at the Nov. 16 meeting and the final budget on Dec. 21. Buber said the county's financial condition appears in good standing as no borrowing was needed and the cash flow has been steady.

Several budget transfers were approved by the commissioners, who have a policy to keep a close watch on spendings of different departments to prevent over budget transactions.

Budget approvals were for the following:

The Schuylkill Conservation District, which has an office along the Gordon Nagle Trail in North Manheim Township, was granted approval to move $6,662 from various accounts to add $5,139 for rental space, $570 for fuel, electric, water and sewer services; and $783 for materials and supplies.

Adult Probation Department to transfer $16,637 from several accounts to increase the vehicle maintenance costs by $13,107; materials and suppliles by $300; payments in lieu of benefits, $3,080; and taxable meal reimbursement, $150.

District Attorney's Office requested transfer of $2,100 from its postage and handling account to compensate travel expenses for Senior Magisterial Judge Romig to travel back and forth to cover District Court 21-2-01, Frackville-Ashland area, as the district justice, Bernadette Nahas, retired earlier this year. A new justice will be elected next Tuesday.

Chief Assessor Virginia Murray obtained permission to transfer $250 from her materials and supplies account to pay bills for cell phones for months of November and December.

Budget Director Paul Strake obtained permission to transfer $2,000 from a contingency account to pay major medical reimbursement expenses for retirees. He also was granted permission to transfer $15,000 from the contingency fund to pay unemployment and solvency fee expenses.

Sheriff Joseph Groody received approval to transfer $10,775 from the contingency account to upgrade the exising Security ID Card System for courthouse employees. The upgrade was completed Oct. 24.

The commissioners approved a grant agreement under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program in amount of $63,000 to update the current county multi-hazard mitigation plan. The federal goverment will contribute 75 percent of the cost and the state the remaining 25 percent.

Cleaning bids

Three bids were received for cleaning the courthouse building.

TKO Cleaning Services, LLC, Pottsville, which holds the current contract, submitted a contract for two years of cleaning at $164,000; Avenues, Pottsville, submitted a three year contract at $283,278.55; and Rhino Building Services, Reading, a one year contract for $192,000. The contracts will be reviewed and decisions announced at later public meeting.

The board reviewed a number of proposed projects and services to be provided for different agencies which will be acted on at next week's public meeting which will be held Thursday instead of the regular Wednesday date.

Public Works Director William Liptok submitted for approval an agreement for Yost Mechanical Company, Schuylkill Haven, to replace a roof top air conditioner at the Rest Haven Home at a cost of $11,120.

Assistant County Solicitor Robert Frycklund requested approval of a stipulation reached with HJR Realty Inc. to decrease the aggragate fair market value of the Comfort Inn Hotel property along SR443 in Pine Grove Township from $2,318,660 to $2,200,2000 retroactive to tax year 2008.

Real Estate Director Lisa Mahall presented a new lease agreement for approval for use of the building at 619 W. Oak St., Frackville, for office and court hearing space for the district justice of that area. Mahall reported the rental rate remains unchanged at $2,200 a month.

She also asked approval for purchase of 40 tons of rock salt and anti skid material for the winter season from Orwigsburg Borough for $2,650.80 and to increase the contract with Fidler Brothers for removal of debris at two county bridges in Tremont. The additional cost is $7,702.50. Debris piled up at the bridges from recent floods and rain storms.

The board also reviewed several coal land leases up for renewal.,

Personnel matters

Seveal appointments and promotions were reviewed and will be acted on at the next public meeting.

Rest Haven Home seeks hiring eight part time nurse's trainees at $7.70 per hour. They are, Amanda Sterner, New Ringgold; Michael Zimmerman and Keisie Blankenhorn, Schuylkill Haven; Chad Bowen, Pottsville; Bridge Dougherty and Monica Wolfgang, both of Llewellyn, Branch Township;and Kathleen Ryan, Cressona.

The county hospital also seeks appointment of Maryjane Loeper, Pottsville, as full time assistant director of nursing for the 7 a.m to 3 p.m. shift at $53,390 per year.

Drug and Alcohol Agency seeks approval of a promotion of Melissa Chewey, Pottsville, from assistant administrator to administrator at a salary of $43,064.

The Tax Claim Department seeks to name Angela Toomey, Pottsville, former accountant clerk at Rest Haven Home, as tax claim bureau director, at $33,433 per year.

President Judge William E. Baldwin informed the board the appointment of Brena Powlick, Orwigsburg, as clerk 1 in the Domestic Relations Bureau; and the county solicitor's office announced the resignation of Tracie Clewes, Saint Clair, as a paralegal.

Commissioner Mantura Gallagher announced the courthouse will be closed next Tuesday, Nov. 8. for election day and next Friday, Nov. 11, in honor of Veterans' Day.

The next public meeting of the county commissioners will be held Thursday, Nov. 10, instead of the regular meeting day of Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Also the county employees retirement board will meet at the conclusion of the commissioners meeting and the county prison board will meet at 11 a.m. in the commissioners' board room.

Salary board

The county salary board held its work session following the commissioners' meeting and proposed elimination of the position of secretary-administrator in the coal lands department and creating an administerative secretary position in the planning and zoning department to be acted on when the board holds its public meeting next week.